Facebook’s messaging app WhatsApp is reportedly blocking links to rival chat app Telegram, an issue that is only restricted to WhatsApp on Android.
Several Telegram users on the Android platform claim that Telegram URLs are not getting linked in the Facebook-owned WhatsApp. It appears that this problem was noticed after an update was made on WhatsApp. WhatsApp links sent to the Telegram app from an iPhone do open up, but those sent from the Android platform do not open.
As such, links like telegram.me or telegram.org appear just as messages on WhatsApp, but the users cannot copy or tap on them for redirection or access to the link. Links having the domain name as ‘telegram’ don’t spontaneously produce a hyperlink as the usual links do. This, therefore, has made it impossible to follow a link to a Telegram group chat or even the Telegram app.
Apparently, links to sites like telegram.com are as well blocked despite being unrelated to the Telegram Messenger. WhatsApp has also blocked usernames and links to chat rooms and also personal messages. Interestingly, links to a news website referred to as The Telegram having the URL thetelegram.com open up as anticipated on WhatsApp chats.
Linked to ISIS terror group
Telegram has been mentioned quite severally in the news arena recently with claims that it was used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militia terror group to coordinate, plan and execute terror activities. The app is known for its high end to end encryption technology that enables its users to securely send messages via the ‘secret chat’ feature found in the application.
Is it all about competition?
Telegram is a free messaging app that is available on the Android, iOS, Mac, Linux and Windows platforms. The app is a rival to WhatsApp which is also available on a much more number of platforms including the platforms on which Telegram is based on in addition to Symbian, BlackBerry among others. Telegram app offers services that its WhatsApp rival does also offer despite having wide differential margins in their user bases. For instance, as of May 2015 Telegram claimed to have more than 62 million active users per month, whereas the WhatsApp active monthly users hit above the 900 million mark.
Despite having a huge user base and operating a number of platforms compared to Telegram, WhatsApp seems to be up to something unexplained beyond competition. If bugs were to be blamed, then all other links would have been affected by the said update that resulted in the censorship of the Telegram links.
According to the users, the restriction of Telegram links does not apply across every Android device as such, since it has been noted that links do work in WhatsApp version 2.12.304, but not in the recently updated version 2.12.367. Still this isn’t enough justification to blame it on the bugs as other links apart from Telegram-related links work well in WhatsApp.
According to The Verge, Facebook has been known for a while in relation to blocking links with the most current restriction of words with ‘Tsu.co’ and considering these as spam. Surprisingly Tsu.co is a social media service that allows the users to generate money from their posts via the ads included on their pages.
Facebook has not yet commented on this issue, but a spokesperson from Telegram said that the company is not worried by the move.