Telegram’s been around in the messaging space for several years now, amassing hundreds of millions of users along the way, and is blocked in several countries. However, doubts have been raised about Telegram’s security and privacy.
For example, the messaging app doesn’t use end-to-end encryption by default, a perplexing decision given its marketing tilt as a secure and privacy-focused service. That is in stark contrast to its rivals Signal and WhatsApp, both of which have end-to-end encryption enabled as a factory setting for messages, audio, and video calls.
Telegram’s security issues are well-known. In December 2019, dozens of Russians saw their Telegram accounts hacked which meant that the snoopers probably read their secret messages and group conversations. Similarly, it is alleged that thousands of Telegram accounts were spied on during the protests in Hong Kong last year.
There are problems within Telegram’s security architecture, too. The company uses an in-house cryptography protocol known as MTProto rather than an open-source version. Its reliance on a proprietary encryption version means the protocol hasn’t been independently verified by security experts. What’s more, the service hasn’t voluntarily offered to have it audited either. Another mysterious decision.
These developments are enough to make anyone with a Telegram account nervous and fearful for their privacy and security. Read on to discover how to delete Telegram safely and securely.
Deactivate your Telegram account
Before you delete your Telegram account, you should be aware that it’s not possible to recover any of your messages, groups, channels, or contacts if you proceed. Deactivating your Telegram account is a permanent decision—even if you sign up for the app again, your old chats and contacts won’t be restored.
If you wish to proceed with deleting your Telegram account, then there are two ways of going about it.
Option 1: Choose the self-destruct setting
Unfortunately, there is no option to permanently delete Telegram within the app. Your recourse in this case is to choose a “self-destruct” option which will deactivate your Telegram account after a period of inactivity. That means if you don’t log into your Telegram account within that time, it will automatically disable.
All your contacts and messages will be gone forever if you are inactive for a certain period of time.
Follow these steps:
1. Open your Telegram account and navigate to Settings. Select Privacy and Security.
2. Scroll to the If Away For option.
3. Click on 1 month.
The default setting is 6 months, meaning Telegram will automatically delete your account if you’re idle for that period of time. However, by selecting 1 month you’re shortening this timeframe. If you log on to Telegram within this time, you will reset the clock so make sure that doesn’t happen otherwise you will have to wait longer.
Option 2: Use a web browser to delete your Telegram account
As we’ve mentioned before, there is no way to instantly delete a Telegram account within the mobile app. However, if you don’t want to wait a month for it to self-destruct then it’s possible to delete it from the web within a few minutes.
Follow these steps:
1. Navigate to the Telegram Deactivation Page on any web browser. You can use both your laptop or your phone for the purpose.
2. Proceed to enter the same phone number that you used to sign up for Telegram. Be sure to start with the country code, followed by the number (+XXXXXX)
3. Once you enter your phone number, you will receive a message inside the Telegram app itself. Don’t expect an SMS, because it won’t arrive. Once you have received the alphanumeric code, go back to the deactivation page in your browser, input the code in the field, and click Sign In.
4. At this point, Telegram will ask you why you want to delete the service. You can choose to give your feedback or leave the field blank. It’s optional and won’t affect your ability to delete the app. Make sure to select Done in order to proceed to the next steps.
5. Telegram will then try to convince you one last time to stay with the service. If you’re sure you want to delete Telegram, click Yes, delete my account.
6. And that’s it! You should receive a confirmation of deletion and will no longer be allowed to use the app.
In case you wish to rejoin Telegram, you will have to wait a few days before you’re allowed to register again.
Telegram Privacy Features
Most of Telegram’s messages aren’t end-to-end encrypted by default, but the “Secret Chat” function helps solve this problem.
Regular messages are stored on Telegram servers so that both the sender and recipient can access them whenever they need to. But if you start a secret chat, the messages are encrypted and stored only on the devices of both users. Telegram and its staff cannot access these messages under any circumstances.
Telegram also offers the “Unsend Message” feature which allows users to remove messages they’ve sent up to 48 hours previously. Telegram later expanded this feature to allow users to delete messages sent by others in group chats, a move which proved controversial and against its free-speech mantra.
In a similar vein, you can edit messages inside the Telegram app as well as send “silent messages” which won’t cause the recipient’s device to ring (think of it as a do-not-disturb) mode.
Other privacy features include an option to prevent those outside your contact list from adding you to groups, as well as another one to disallow all groups altogether. You can also use more than one Telegram account on the same device/number.