Super Follows and Ticketed Spaces

Russian messages, porn and more



Telegram is rising like foam these days as an alternative to WhatsApp that, among other differences, does not share data with Facebook and includes several additional privacy options, such as being able to use it by hiding your phone number. My experience is a bit different: every day I receive dozens of messages from strangers on Telegram, and there is little you can do about it.



I use Telegram together with other messaging applications since its inception, back in 2013, but it was not until last year that I began to receive messages from strangers. First, in Russian, then from all over the world, including porn, viruses, charlatans and various scams. And there is no option to avoid it that does not have a but.






Welcome to my Telegram



In the years that I have been using Telegram, the balance is positive. The app basically does the same as WhatsApp, but better in almost every aspect. I use it to chat both with other people and with myself, to save notes, links or send things from my mobile to my PC and vice versa. Everything was going well, until sometime in 2020, when I began to receive messages from strangers.



At first, most of the messages were in Russian. Because of the novelty, I tried to answer some of them with the help of a translator, to try to understand what was happening, but without much success. After what a dozen Russians wrote me messages about kettles, I came to the conclusion that it was some kind of pun in Russian, based on my name -Ivan- and inspired by some TikTok video.





Then came the charlatans, scammers and the spam of a lifetime. Two different people, separated by several days, wrote to me claiming to be "renowned writers" in search of information for his new book. I went along with them a couple of messages to see what the end goal was, although eventually both they and I ended up boring each other. I suspect that they would seek to obtain personal data and / or copies of personal documents, although I will remain in doubt ... until the third arrives, I suppose.



It did not take long for the Nigerian scammers Or at least the 2020 version of the same old scam: the promise of a reward after helping to free a large sum of money. The scam has circulated by mail, jumped on social networks and is now in instant messaging, on Telegram. Renewed or die.





Hence, the jump to porn was inevitable. Suddenly, my Telegram profile was irresistible to the opposite sex, despite having the profile picture hidden from strangers. Women from all over the world wanted to meet me: from Uzbekistan to Italy, Russia and any other corner of the planet.



Every time I open archived chats, I don't know what I'm going to find. Sometimes there are clueless people, jokers or directly pornographic photos, dick pic included.



Not only that, but some of them They started the chat by sending me suggestive photos or directly naked. Of course, it wasn't just women or people posing as women: after several decades surfing the net, that's how I received my first dick pic.





Not all my dear strangers were malicious. Some of them clearly they had been mistaken as a person or they were just looking to chat with whoever was on the other side. Since I started receiving messages, without a doubt the most repeated is a simple "Hello" or, in Russian, "Привет".



Three recent messages Three recent posts


Receiving a message from strangers from time to time is not a problem. The problem is the number of messages, which does not stop uploading. Today I had 14 conversations from strangers, and the average of the last days is about 10 conversations a day, including attempts to start a secret chat and voice notes that I am afraid to reproduce.



The obvious solution is to ignore the messages and move on with your life, although it would not be until Telegram 6.3 that the option to auto archive strangers' conversations. It is a very useful option, which serves as a kind of antispam filter although, like the mail antispam filter, it is convenient to check from time to time as soon as you have not eaten an interesting conversation. This is when Telegram becomes a box of chocolates, as Forrest Gump would say.







Signal vs Telegram vs WhatsApp: what are the differences and which one takes more care of your privacy





A quick search on social media shows us that my case is far from isolated. Other people complain about the conversations of strangers on Telegram. It does not happen to everyone, although to whom it happens, it happens.



Where do these people come from



Now, where do all these people come from? The answer depends on what kind of people we are talking about. Spam, scammers and those who try to send viruses through Telegram they probably have some automated system that creates conversations with automatically generated phone numbers or usernames. For example, this virus attempt I received a few days ago:





However, for better or for worse, the majority of strangers who speak to me on Telegram are not scammers, but clueless people. People who want to talk to their friend or cousin Ivan, and end up talking to me. Why does this happen?



The answer is Telegram global search, which mixes own contacts with Telegram accounts that have an active username, like mine. If you have a popular name as your username, you are more likely to have someone try to find their brother-in-law and end up chatting with you instead.



Joses Telegram's global search mixes own contacts and accounts with username


On Telegram, Usernames are public and, after activating them, anyone can find you and open a conversation with you. In this way, one of the main advantages of Telegram over Signal or WhatsApp, being able to use it without revealing your phone number, becomes a double-edged sword: in return, you open the door to strangers or, at least, reveal the door location.



The Telegram username allows you to avoid giving your phone to other people to talk to you, but in return anyone can find you in the Telegram search



Unlike Messenger, Instagram or Twitter, in Telegram there are no chat requests. In Telegram's privacy options, quite extensive, you can choose who can find you using your phone number, but not by username. That is, if you have a username, anyone can open a chat for you and send you any nonsense. It will be filed, yes, but the stupid thing stays there.



The fact that Telegram automatically archives messages from strangers helps a lot, although it is still a patch. Archived messages are not automatically deleted, so sooner or later you will end up entering there and finding whatever they have sent you. In apps with chat requests, you will at least only see the first message.



What can you do to avoid it?



Telegram chats of strangers can arrive two ways: through the phone number or, most likely, through the username. The first case can be easily avoided from the privacy settings of Telegram.



If they are adding you through the phone number, you can avoid it from the Telegram settings. Go into Privacy & Security, tap on Phone number and in the section Who can find me by my number ?, change it to My contacts.



Numtelf


If they are finding you through the username, you have several options. The first one is to delete your username or change it to something that is not common, such as a nickname (although you will have to change your name as well, as it is used in searches). It is an effective option, although it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, because maybe you got a good username when you registered it years ago, when Telegram was not as popular as it is today.



Of course, you can also leave everything as is, ignore messages and from time to time enter Archived chats to do cleaning (or not, this is optional). This is what I have been doing for over a year, although what started out as a funny curiosity has turned into something tedious.



You have two options: either you delete your username or you have patience to ignore the messages that reach you



There are two settings to help you make it a little more bearable. The first, and most important, is Archive and mute, in the Privacy and security settings, that automatically archive new chats from strangers. The second, in the notifications section, is to uncheck Include muted chats, to avoid counting these chats as unread, so you can easily ignore them.



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What could Telegram do



As we have seen, as a user there is no really satisfactory option to end Telegram chats with strangers without giving up anything in return, but it shouldn't be difficult for Telegram to tackle the problem in a future update. These are some of the alternatives that could be incorporated:



  • Include message requests, as in Messenger, Instagram or Twitter. If you don't accept the request, they can't contact you.


  • Add a privacy setting on profile visibility, as in Facebook or the setting of the phone number, in Telegram. In this way, you would only be visible in searches if you want to.


All is not lost, and Telegram is one of the applications that includes more news in each new version. The only thing left is to wait and, in the meantime, be patient, disable the username or practice Russian. Я выбрал последний вариант.