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ISIS’ favorite messaging service just got booted from the App Store

Telegram and Telegram X were removed from Apple’s App Store after “inappropriate content was made available to our users."

by Noah Kulwin
Feb 1 2018, 3:50pm

The messaging service favored by bitcoin enthusiasts, ISIS, and political dissidents worldwide has been kicked off the App Store.

Telegram, a messaging software with large semi-public chat groups that users can enter, and a new version of the service called Telegram X were removed from Apple’s App Store after “inappropriate content was made available to our users,” Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov tweeted Thursday morning.

Apple confirmed to VICE News that the two apps were “removed,” although Durov did not respond to a request for comment about the “inappropriate content” in question. Apple has strict rules about making sure users can filter or otherwise block “objectionable material,” which Telegram does not appear to allow users to do. Durov said in his tweet that he expects the app to be available for Apple downloads again soon — after Telegram developers put the necessary “protections in place.”

Telegram is extremely popular. According to Durov’s figures from December, the app has about 180 million monthly active users worldwide. About 40 million of those are located in Iran, where the government banned the service during political protests that rocked the country earlier this month in hopes of preventing coordination among the demonstrators.

But Telegram is also known for what former employees describe as its close ties to the Russian government, including the allegation that Telegram employees work out of a St. Petersburg building owned by a Putin ally. The controversial (and unverified) dossier about President Donald Trump’s connections to Russia noted that Russian intelligence compromised Telegram’s security within the last couple years.

Beyond its connections to Russian government, Telegram has been called the “app of choice” for ISIS members and other terror groups, who use it to covertly propagandize, recruit new members, and coordinate strategy. In the wake of the Paris terror attack committed by ISIS in 2015, the app shut down 78 channels related to ISIS activity.

Cover image: Telegram, a free cloud-based instant messaging service, on the App Store. (Photo by Sergei Konkov\TASS via Getty Images)