That makes this the perfect time to talk about Telegram’s security and privacy.
End-to-end encryption is not the default option in Telegram
The first thing to know about Telegram is that Cloud chats, as Telegram calls its standard chats, are not end-to-end encrypted. (Here’s why end-to-end encryption is important for privacy.)
How to enable end-to-end encryption for secret chats in Telegram
Telegram does have end-to-end encryption — you just need to enable it. Telegram calls chats with end-to-end encryption enabled Secret chats.
In secret chats, text messages, pictures, videos, and all other files are sent using end-to-end encryption. That means only you and the recipient have the decryption key, so Telegram cannot access the data.
Moreover, the contents of secret chats are not stored on Telegram’s servers. Because secret chats are saved only on the devices of chat participants, they cannot be accessed from another device — and they disappear when you log out of Telegram or delete the app.
Secret chats are available in Telegram’s iOS, Android, and macOS apps. The Web version and Windows app do not support secret chats; they cannot ensure secure storage of chats on the device.
How to create a secret chat in Telegram
Current versions of the Telegram apps do not make the secret chat feature easy to find.
To create a secret chat, you need to open the profile of your chat partner, tap or click the three-dot button (sometimes called More, sometimes not), and select Start Secret Chat.
That opens a chat in which end-to-end encryption is applied to messages (a notification to that effect appears in the chat window at the start). You can also set the time after which messages will be deleted by tapping or clicking the clock icon in the message input box.
Of course, the automatic deletion of messages doesn’t prevent your chat partner from taking screenshots, but if they do, you will be notified about it in the chat. The one exception is if the other person is using the macOS app; in that case you won’t get a notification.
Here’s another handy tip: Telegram allows multiple secret chats with the same person. Group chats cannot be secret, however, unlike in WhatsApp, which applies end-to-end encryption to all chats by default.
How to know if a chat is end-to-end encrypted: The padlock icon
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