Telegram is a freemium, cross-platform, cloud-based instant messaging (IM) service. The service also provides end-to-end encrypted video calling, VoIP, file sharing and several other features. It was launched for iOS on 14 August 2013 and Android on 20 October 2013. The servers of Telegram are distributed worldwide with five data centers in different regions, while the operational center is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Various client apps are available for desktop and mobile platforms including official apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS and Linux (although registration requires an iOS or Android device and a working phone number). There are also two official Telegram web twin apps, WebK and WebZ, and numerous unofficial clients that make use of Telegram's protocol. All of Telegram's official components are open source, with the exception of the server which is closed-sourced and proprietary.
Telegram provides optional end-to-end encrypted chats. Cloud chats and groups are encrypted between the app and the server, so that ISPs and other third-parties on the network can't access data, but the Telegram server can. Users can send text and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share an unlimited number of images, documents (2 GB per file), user locations, animated stickers, contacts, and audio files. Users can also follow channels, which have been used by celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and politicians: President of France Emmanuel Macron, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Moldova Maia Sandu, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others.
In January 2021, Telegram surpassed 500 million monthly active users. It was the most downloaded app worldwide in January 2021[non-primary source needed] with 1 billion downloads globally as of late August 2021. In June 2022, Telegram surpassed 700 million monthly active users. The same month, Telegram Premium, an optional paid subscription with extra features, was introduced.
Telegram was launched in 2013 by the brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov. Previously, the pair founded the Russian social network VK, which they left in 2014, saying it had been taken over by President Putin's allies. Pavel Durov sold his remaining stake in VK and left Russia after resisting government pressure. Nikolai Durov created the MTProto protocol that is the basis for the messenger, while Pavel Durov provided financial support and infrastructure through his Digital Fortress fund. Telegram Messenger states that its end goal is not to bring profit, but it is not structured as a non-profit organization.
Telegram is registered as a company in the British Virgin Islands and as an LLC in Dubai. It does not disclose where it rents offices or which legal entities it uses to rent them, citing the need to "shelter the team from unnecessary influence" and protect users from governmental data requests. After Pavel Durov left Russia in 2014, he was said to be moving from country to country with a small group of computer programmers consisting of 15 core members. While a former employee of VK claimed that Telegram had employees in Saint Petersburg, Pavel Durov said that the Telegram team made Berlin, Germany its headquarters in 2014, but failed to obtain German residence permits for everyone on the team and moved to other jurisdictions in early 2015. Since 2017, the company has been based in Dubai. 
Telegram apps receive monthly updates. Users can report apps' issues and recommend development ideas on the dedicated "Bugs and Suggestions" platform.
In October 2013, Telegram announced that it had 100,000 daily active users. On 24 March 2014, Telegram announced that it had reached 35 million monthly users and 15 million daily active users. In October 2014, South Korean governmental surveillance plans drove many of its citizens to switch to Telegram. In December 2014, Telegram announced that it had 50 million active users, generating 1 billion daily messages, and that it had 1 million new users signing up on its service every week, traffic doubled in five months with 2 billion daily messages. In September 2015, Telegram announced that the app had 60 million active users and delivered 12 billion daily messages.
In February 2016, Telegram announced that it had 100 million monthly active users, with 350,000 new users signing up every day, delivering 15 billion messages daily. In December 2017, Telegram reached 180 million monthly active users. In March 2018, Telegram reached 200 million monthly active users. On 14 March 2019, Pavel Durov claimed that "3 million new users signed up for Telegram within the last 24 hours." Durov did not specify what prompted this flood of new sign-ups, but the period matched a prolonged technical outage experienced by Facebook and its family of apps, including Instagram.
According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the number of monthly Telegram users as of October 2019 is 300 million people worldwide.
On 24 April 2020, Telegram announced that it had reached 400 million monthly active users. On 8 January 2021, Durov announced in a blog post that Telegram had reached "about 500 million" monthly active users.
In August 2021, TechCrunch reported that India was Telegram's largest market with a 22% share of total installs coming from the region.
On 5 October 2021, Telegram gained over 70 million new users as a result of an outage which affected Facebook and its affiliates.
On 21 March 2022, Telegram usage share jumped to 63%, overtaking WhatsApp's usage share of 32% to become Russia's most popular messaging tool. On 19 June, Telegram announced that it had reached 700 million monthly active users.
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