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Telegram Downloads Soar as Trump Supporters Deplatformed

Trump supporters flocked to the encrypted messaging app after “posts on Parler had urged users” to move there, The Daily Telegraph reported. Tatyana Flegontova / TASS

Encrypted messaging app Telegram has become the second-most downloaded app in the United States after President Donald Trump and his supporters were deplatformed in the wake of last week’s deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

Telegram's downloads rose as Twitter and Facebook banned Trump while Google and Apple removed conservative social network Parler from their app stores. The tech giants said they took drastic actions — which were criticized by Russian pro- and anti-Kremlin figures as well as by Telegram co-founder Pavel Durov himself — over the outgoing president’s role in inciting last Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol riot that killed five people.

According to Sensor Tower research data cited by The Telegraph, around 540,000 U.S. iPhone owners installed Telegram between Wednesday and Sunday, nearly three times as many as the previous week.

Telegram is now the second-most downloaded app in the U.S. as of early Tuesday. Only Signal, another secure messaging app, saw a bigger surge in the past week after its larger competitor WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy allowed it to share more information with parent company Facebook.

Trump supporters flocked to Telegram after “posts on Parler had urged users to move to Telegram before Parler was taken offline on Monday,” The Telegraph reported. Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and former attorney Sidney Powell are also frequent users of Telegram.

Since its 2013 launch, Telegram, co-founded by Russian-born entrepreneur Durov, has enjoyed popularity with nearly 500 million active users from mostly Russian-speaking countries and Iran. 

The app has received criticism for its reputation as a safe haven for extremist groups including terrorists, child abusers, far-right activists and neo-Nazis that are banned from mainstream platforms. 

In 2020, the Russian government ended its two-year effort to block Telegram over its refusal to provide users’ online communications to security services.

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