April 14, 2024
  • Telegram has announced a new program where it will use your number to send login OTPs to other users
  • Participating users will get a free subscription to Telegram Premium for a month. But in return, their phone number will be exposed to hundreds of people
  • If the recipient decides to harass or spam the user, Telegram won’t take any responsibility

Telegram’s Peer-to-Peer Login Is a Privacy Nightmare

Telegram recently introduced a new program called “Peer-to-Peer Login” and announced that users willing to participate will earn a one-month free subscription to its premium membership (available at $ 4.99 per month).

The program is currently only available for Android devices in selected countries.

The news was first announced on the English version of a Russian Telegram channel and spotted by X user AssembleDebug. The user shared a screenshot of the offering where Telegram said only 0.1% of its user base qualifies for this offer.

In order to avail it, the selected user needs to allow Telegram to use their number to send 150 OTPs/month through SMS to other users who are trying to log in. And in return, they’ll get the premium subscription and the ability to send gift links to their friends with access to this offer.

Read more about how Telegram was weaponized in the Israel-Hamas war

What Does The Premium Subscription Offer?

Here’s a quick look into the perks of Telegram’s premium membership:

Chats & Channels

  • 10 pinned chats
  • Permission to follow 1,000 channels
  • 30 chat folders with 200 chats and 100 invite links each
  • Auto-archive chats
  • Special perks for Groups and Channels

Emojis

  • Custom pack of emojis
  • Unlimited reactions
  • Special stickers with premium effects

Other Premium Features 

  • Premium badges
  • Premium app icons
  • Animated profile pictures
  • Larger file uploads (up to 4 GB)
  • Color options for Account and Profile

Why Participating In This Program Is a Bad Idea?

At first glance, it might seem like an amazing deal to get all premium features for free. However, there are a lot of underlying issues. For starters, if your network carrier decides to charge you for the login messages sent through your number, you’ll have to bear the entire cost of hundreds of SMS.

Telegram has made it very clear that it will not reimburse the users for network charges.

It might not affect you if you have an unlimited texting plan. But if you don’t, the SMS cost might exceed the cost of Telegram’s premium membership, depending on your region.

On top of that, this is a huge privacy concern, primarily because Telegram has said that the user who will receive the login code will be able to see your phone number.

Telegram will not be liable for any inconvenience, harassment, or harm resulting from unwanted, unauthorized, or illegal actions undertaken by users who became aware of your phone number through P2PL.Telegram

Imagine 150 people from all around the world having access to your phone number, and they can use it to your disadvantage with no repercussions from Telegram – it’s certainly one of my worst privacy nightmares!

Plus, your phone number might also be a key to your online accounts. If it ends up in the wrong hands, hacking your accounts won’t be too hard. Phone numbers are also often used for multi-factor authentication. So, if hundreds of strangers have your number, it won’t really be a safe authenticator anymore.

Sure, you will also be able to see the number of those receiving the messages. But as per the rules of the program, participating users cannot message the recipients, not even if they text you first, or they might lose the ‘prize.’

Moreover, Telegram gained its name by being a “safe and private” messaging app. The company boasted of being more secure than popular messaging alternatives. But with this step, it is digressing from its main mission.

In the end, as a user, you’ll only be saving $5 at the most. So, you have to ask yourself, is it really worth giving up your privacy?


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