The Outline explored some of the Telegram channels created for sharing pirated content, and, in some instances, even managed to obtain stolen streaming logins.
Popular messaging app Telegram has become a haven for people sharing pirated movies and shows, in addition to stolen login credentials for services like Netflix and Spotify, according to a recent investigation by The Outline.
The Outline explored some of the groups and channels created for the purpose of sharing pirated content, and, in some instances, even managed to obtain stolen login details for streaming sites.
They also interviewed more than a dozen creators of those channels and groups. The takeaway? Those using Telegram for illicit purposes say they view Telegram as a platform that offers increased anonymity compared to other alternatives, and one that isn't as heavily policed when it comes to removing groups and channels focused on sharing pirated or illegal material.
The main selling point of Telegram has always been privacy, so it's not entirely unexpected that those looking to share copyrighted or illegal material (stolen account details) would gravitate toward it. To be clear, using Telegram to share pirated or stolen material violates the app's terms and service, which clearly states the company has a "zero tolerance" policy.
In a statement to The Outline, a Telegram spokesman acknowledged that the app has experienced "new challenges" as it has grown. In May, the site tallied its user-base at 200 million monthly active users.
While its privacy-focused features have also drawn journalists, politicians, and privacy enthusiasts to the app, the company has also faced criticism when groups such as ISIS began using it. In September, The New York Times reported that Telegram was widely used among terrorist groups like ISIS, and the service was faced with the task of trying to scrub its channels clean of terrorist-related activity following a June attack in Paris.
Telegram has also been in the news this week following a court-ordered ban in Russia. On Friday, a Moscow court ruled in an 18-minute hearing to block the popular cloud-based messaging service following an extensive dispute around government access to messages. The court had demanded access to Telegram's encryption keys and messages, which they say they need in order to investigate crime and terrorist attacks. Telegram refused, and pointed out that what the court is asking for is impossible due to the way the service is built.
As The New York Times points out, this puts the Russian governement in an unusual position, as the messaging app has been known to be used by Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin's press office.