Telegram messenger app blocks 78 IS-linked accounts

Members of ISIS (file photo)

Members of ISIS (file photo)

The instant messenger app Telegram, created by Russian Internet guru Pavel Durov, says it has blocked 78 accounts associated with the jihadist Islamic State group following the attacks in Paris.

“We were disturbed to learn that Telegram’s public channels were being used by ISIS to spread their propaganda,” the service said on its own account late Wednesday.

“As a result, this week alone we blocked 78 ISIS-related channels across 12 languages,” it added.

Telegram, a free app which was launched in 2013, purports to “provide a secure means of communications everywhere on the planet” and blasts Internet giants Facebook and Google on its website for giving private data to third parties.

It offers encrypted chat with self-destructing messages and has recently launched a way to create public channels to broadcast to unlimited audiences.

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the technology is fast becoming popular among jihadi groups, with IS and Al-Qaeda groups creating several channels.

Telegram said it identifies offensive public content by reviewing user reports.

“We were able to identify and block these public ISIS channels thanks to your reports,” it said.

Durov, the enfant terrible of Russia’s Internet industry together with his brother Nikolai, developed the popular Vkontakte social networking site.

He made waves in 2014, following the toppling of a pro-Moscow leader in Ukraine, when he revealed Russia’s FSB security service had demanded he turn over personal data of Ukrainian protest groups, adding that to obey would be betraying trust of users.

But he ultimately lost control of VKontakte and left the country two years ago to focus on Telegram, based in Berlin.

Earlier this week he wrote on Facebook that he mourned the Paris attacks “in the most beautiful city in the world” but also criticised the French government.

“I think the French government is as responsible as ISIS for this, because it is their policies and carelessness which eventually led to the tragedy.

“They take money away from hardworking people of France with outrageously high taxes and spend them on waging useless wars in the Middle East and on creating parasitic social paradise for North African immigrants.”

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