Telegram Messaging App Needs PR Damage Control for Terrorism Connections

November 18, 2015 Sean Couch

Telegram, the Berlin-based startup won't hesitate to brag about their layers of encryption or claims to be "faster and more secure" than their competitors such as WhatsApp. Users can securely share information with friends and send self-destructing messages that may include photos, videos or other files.

Privacy and security are undoubtedly one of the most talked about topics in the technology industry and Telegram has been building a product to address those issues. But what happens when your key features are abused, and your brand is associated with terrorist organizations that are responsible some of the worst attacks in modern history?

We took a look at the data and created a new press interactive report to assess the damage.

Monitor The Messaging


Public relations is supposed to represent a brand's mission and values, but what happens when other contributing conversations drown out that voice?

Recent reports have positioned Telegram as the "hot new thing" that is used by ISIS for propaganda and planning of recent attacks made in Europe. The terrorist group has used the software in the past to claim responsibility for downing a Russian airplane on October 31 and shared other cryptic messaging across various topical channels that other users can view.

The media is rapidly associating the brand with topics and messaging that could hurt their ability to acquire new quality users. Also, Telegram is becoming a bigger target for government officials to review "back door access" that will set a new precedent for access into personal information.

Craft a Response Plan


The founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, was once quoted "We're trying to create a new type of IT company, one that never focuses on maximising profits, but instead provides value to society." Durov has also been privately funding the popular messaging app to help maintain the apps original mission and overall quality.

Durov is committed to creating the most secure and free communication tool for everyone to access. The founder has worked diligently to create an end-to-end encryption system that has disclosed exactly zero bytes of private data to governments and third parties, but should that now change?

As a service that is supposed to "provide value to society," should Telegram come out with a response to better aid government officials in capturing ISIS or any other terrorist group? What kind of statement can they make that will help maintain their ability to share secure information and ensure the overall safety of it's users?  More importantly, who should they be targeting to help relay their response to this crisis and have greater confidence it will be heard? 


One place to start would be to examine which publications and authors are driving the most engagement with their readers. Publications with high readership can hold value, but amplified conversations can have far greater influence. Some of the top publications and ones worth targeting for a response would be The Hacker News, Express and Buzzeed. Each of these sites have published relevant posts that have generated thousands of shares and been viewed by countless others in each respective social network.

Public relations does not always present a clear solution, but Telegram must craft a response and determine where they stand on this issue. If not, government officials and other advocates will take action that could do greater harm. US Senator John McCain has already started a push to outlaw encryption technology that the US government is unable to track. 

How do you think Telegram should respond to this crisis? Check out the full PR interactive report here and share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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