Telegram’s liberal policies make it a breeding ground for illegal activities

Telegram threatens to become an accessible alternative to darkweb

Since the corona outbreak, chat service Telegram has been found more and more frequently by criminals who illegally offer footage, such as videos of sex appointments recorded without permission. This is shown by research by KPN Security, which watched 106 Telegram channels in which criminal activities took place for ninety days.

The channels are publicly accessible, but often contain “shocking and traumatic images,” the company reports. Among other things, child pornography is shared.

KPN Security also discovered a new form of sextortion, the online extortion of nude photos and videos, called datingextortion. In doing so, criminals make sex agreements with their victims, which are then filmed without their knowledge. Then the images are shared on Telegram.

Groups in which the images are shared sometimes have hundreds or thousands of members. In addition, there are groups where weapons and drugs are traded, where negative test evidence is sold and where people can go to get software to defraud others online.

“The popular chat service is in danger of becoming an accessible alternative to the dark web,” says KPN Security. On Telegram links are also shared to very shocking pages on the dark web, such as pages where there is human trafficking or where (mostly fake) murder videos can be found.

The channels sent 668,043 messages within that period, of which 24,326 were unique. Many messages are distributed in different groups, often via the same people. A spokesperson of KPN Security says that people who send illegal messages often do so with a prepaid SIM card. It keeps them anonymous and out of the hands of the police.

KPN Security says it wants to warn curious users not only about traumatic images, but also about the criminal nature of these channels. Via Telegram, the images can be downloaded automatically to a user’s device. “As a result, you have criminal content on your device, which can be subject to fines and prison sentences.”

The issue of Telegram has been going on for some time. Two weeks ago, research platform Pointer wrote about the massive distribution of nude photos on the platform. The people in the picture have not given permission for that. Then members of the groups try to find out who they are, and then harass them.

KPN Security advises victims to file a complaint and pass it to authorities. Telegram will likely take it down.

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