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Telegram Founder Blames "Socialists" For Paris Attacks

Telegram, a privacy-centric messaging app has come under attack for allowing ISIS channels to openly broadcast. Now, its founder and CEO Pavel Durov says France’s policies are to blame for the ISIS attacks.

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Pavel Durov, the founder and CEO of the Telegram messaging app, has blamed socialists in France for the attacks in Paris, following criticism that his app allows ISIS to freely broadcast their channels to millions of people.

In a Facebook post Tuesday night, Durov wrote that the “French government is as responsible as ISIS for this, because it is their policies and carelessness which eventually led to the tragedy.”

He continued: "It is a disgrace to see Paris in the hands of shortsighted socialists who ruin this beautiful place."

Durov has come under increasing pressure in recent days to remove the ISIS channels from Telegram, amid broader calls by lawmakers in Europe and the United States to crack down on sites used by ISIS. Publicly, Durov has stood firm against the requests, mocking proposals to take down the ISIS channels by writing a post on the Russian social networking site VKontakte, saying, “I propose banning words. There's evidence that they're being used by terrorists to communicate.”

On Wednesday afternoon, some public ISIS channels appeared to be offline, appearing with the message: "Sorry, this channel is no longer accessible."

Durov has not responded to repeated requests by BuzzFeed News for comment.

In a blog post published Wednesday, a cybersecurity commentator known online only as “the Grugq” published a post laying out problems with the Telegram app that he said could be used to spy on ISIS, or other militant groups using the app.

“Telegram is error prone, has wonky homebrew encryption, leaks voluminous metadata, steals the address book, and is now known as a terrorist hangout. I couldn’t possibly think of a worse combination for a safe messenger,” he wrote, adding that the app could also be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, where an intelligence agency could inject their own encryption key into a conversation to listen in.

Grugq also pointed out that by requiring a working phone number to register, Telegram leaves a trail for investigators to potentially follow, though presumably many will register for the app with a burner cell phone.

Sheera Frenkel is a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in San Francisco. She has reported from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and across the Middle East. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 4A53 A35C 06BE 5339 E9B6 D54E 73A6 0F6A E252 A50F

Contact Sheera Frenkel at sheera.frenkel@buzzfeed.com.

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