Telegram founder: Google, Apple are the real enemies of free speech

  • In an interview, the founder of Telegram Pavel Durov says that it isn’t governments that are the biggest barriers to free speech on the internet, instead it is the Big Tech corporations.
  • Durov believes that because Apple and Google own the top app stores in the world, and it is their rules that control free speech online.
  • Telegram has had to abide by Apple and Google’s regulations in the past to stay in their app stores.

Beloved by fringe groups and those adverse to the clear net, Telegram has become a haven of sorts for people who want to post what they want, when they want, with no worries of consequences. This is because its founder, Russian-born Pavel Durov, is a maniac for a free and private internet, and his platform offers encryption so solid that some military organisations use it for communications.

In a rare in-depth interview, Durov spoke with controversial American right-wing pundit Tucker Carlson, and whatever you may think about Carlson and his opinions, the focus of the conversation was on Durov, his Telegram, and what he thinks about the social media and tech industry.

Among the many things Durov revealed about his platform include the claim that he has never spent a single cent on marketing, the fact that Telegram is now reaching a billion users “organically,” and that both the US and Russian governments allegedly tried at different times to solicit private user information from Durov and his app.

When it comes to free speech on the internet, Durov believes that it isn’t governments that try to throttle free speech, its corporations, and notably its Big Tech.

“I would say the largest pressure towards Telegram is not coming from governments. It’s coming from Apple and Google,” said Durov.

“So when it comes to freedom of speech, those two platforms, they could basically censor whatever you can read or access on your smartphone.”

Durov says that it is the strict controls that these companies have in place in their app stores – namely the Google Play Store and the App Store – that decide which platforms people can use for communications free of oversight.

If you think about it, almost everyone in the world who has ever downloaded a smartphone app has done so through these two corporations, and that is an enormous amount of power, so much so that governments are trying to push legislation to remove some of the power away from the likes of Apple and Google.

Durov says that these companies have general guidelines that are “difficult to disagree” with, such as that there must be no violence, discrimination or child sexual abuse material on platforms distributed through their stores, but Telegram has had to take content down because of Apple and Google that Durov believed was “a legitimate way of people expressing their opinions.”

It had to comply because otherwise Telegram would be removed from the stores and that would mean “a big chunk of the world’s population will lose access to a valuable tool,” he says. Adding that the platform has been used before by opposition and resistance groups to organise, like during protests in Hong Kong, Barcelona, Belarus, and others.

There are lots of interesting nuggets found in the interview. Some opinions we agree with. Some we don’t. Check out the full video below:

[Image – Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash]


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