Russian messaging service Telegram has declared it will block terrorist-related channels after Indonesia’s government threatened to completely block the service expressing concerns that the app had become a breeding ground for terrorist content sharing.
Telegram’s web version was blocked by the Ministry of Communication and IT on July 14. The Ministry threatened to completely block access to Telegram’s app as well if it didn’t do more to combat terror groups. The app has been used to promote radicalism, Jakarta claimed, and used for giving instructions for carrying out attacks, due to messages being encrypted.
Indonesia’s concern comes amid increasing influence of so-called Islamic State in Southeast Asia. The island nation experienced a string of attacks this year by the terror group, as has the Philippines which has fought battles against IS at Marawi, on the island of Mindanao.
The founder of Telegram, Russian national Pavel Durov, said he was “upset” by situation, and told his Telegram followers his firm had now removed all terrorist-related public channels reported by the Indonesian government. He said the firm is forming a team of moderators with knowledge of Indonesian language and culture to stamp out all terrorist-related channels faster.
“Telegram is heavily encrypted and privacy-oriented, but we’re no friends of terrorists,” said Mr. Durov, “in fact, every month we block thousands of ISIS-related public channels.”
Telegram has garnered a reputation for playing a central role in Islamic State’s communication strategy, particularly because of a channel feature that allows users to broadcast to an unlimited number of users. Telegram is active in shutting down these channels, but IS operatives often create replica channels, which repeat or mirror the same content.