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Is Telegram Digging Its Own Grave?by@tomisinolujinmi
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Is Telegram Digging Its Own Grave?

by Tomisin OlujinmiAugust 28th, 2022
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Telegram revoked hundreds of public usernames without prior notification to the owners. Pavel Durov, Telegram's founder, posted on his channel, a few days after this event, that he was impressed by the success of the auction of domain/wallet names. The post was followed by an overwhelming backlash from Telegram users, merely hours after the post. The negative response was so much that he turned off reactions in his channel. It had about 30k dislikes, just hours after it was published.

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I have always been a proud proponent of Telegram and what it promises in terms of functionality and user privacy but in light of recent events, I may be forced to rethink that position.


On August 19, it was reported that Telegram had carried out an expansive sweep of its user base and revoked inactive usernames. Hundreds of public usernames were seized and disabled, without any prior notification to the owners.  Most of the affected channels either had little or no content or were inactive for over a year.


But, that's not all that surprising. While there were innocent people caught in between, username squatters were mainly affected. I'm not against that. What rubbed me (and a ton of other people) the wrong way was what followed.


Just a few days after this event, Pavel Durov, Telegram's founder, posted on his channel:


I'm really impressed by the success of the auction TON recently conducted for their domain/wallet names. Wallet.ton was sold for 215,250 Toncoin (~$260000) while casino.ton was sold for ~$244000.


If TON has been able to achieve these results, imagine how successful Telegram with its 700 million users could be if we put reserved @ usernames, group and channel links for auction. In addition to millions of catchy t.me addresses like @storm or @royal, all four-letter usernames could be made available for sale (@bank, @club, @game, @gift etc).


This would create a new platform where username holders could transfer them to interested parties in protected deals – with ownership secured on the blockchain via NFT-like smart-contracts. Other elements of the Telegram ecosystem, including channels, stickers or emoji, could later also become part of this marketplace.


When it comes to scalability and speed, TON probably has the best technology to host such decentralized sales. Our team can write bullet-proof smart contracts for TON (since it was us who invented its smart-contract language), so we are inclined to try out TON as the underlying blockchain for our future marketplace.


Let's see if we can add a little bit of Web 3.0 to Telegram in the coming weeks.


Durov's post would not have seemed out of the ordinary, if not for the extremely odd timing, coming after the widespread revocation of public usernames. As expected, people were not too delighted to find out their channel names were going to be auctioned after being taken away. The post was followed by an overwhelming backlash from Telegram users. It had about 30k dislikes, merely hours after the post. The negative response was so much that Durov turned off reactions in his channel.


Durov to Telegram Users

A previously suggested feature to introduce NFTs as profile pictures was also met with heavy backlash, at the time.


It seems Telegram users are heavily opposed to Web 3.0 technologies and that may be for good reason. Also, we all thought the gains from Telegram Premiumwould be enough. It remains to be seen whether Durov will be willing to go against his users’ wishes to make more profit. Regardless, it is clear that Telegram, in its current state, stands in contrast to what it stood for in the past and the values it claimed to uphold.

I truly believe this could signal Telegram's downfall if Durov doesn't begin to retrace his steps.