RUSSIALINK: “Telegram shuts down hundreds of calls for violence in U.S. last week – app founder Durov” – Interfax

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MOSCOW. Jan 19 (Interfax) – Telegram has blocked and shut down hundreds of public calls for violence on channels connected to the recent events in the United States, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov said.

“In early January, the Telegram moderation team started to receive an increased number of reports about U.S.-related public activity on our platform. The team acted decisively by clamping down on U.S. channels that advocated violence. Thanks to these efforts, last week our moderators blocked and shut down hundreds of public calls for violence that could’ve otherwise reached tens of thousands of subscribers,” Durov said on his Telegram channel.

The Telegram team “continues to process reports from users in addition to proactively removing content that directly incites violence,” he said.

Durov thanked “everyone who reported public channels that crossed the line. Keep it up! We value each of your reports. Telegram welcomes political debate coming from all sides of the political spectrum – but will act swiftly to stop those who incite people to inflict harm on others.”

“For the last two weeks, the world has been following the events in the United States with concern. While the U.S. represents less than 2% of our user base, we at Telegram have also been watching the situation closely,” he said.

“Telegram welcomes peaceful debate and protest, but our Terms of Service explicitly prohibit distributing public calls to violence. In the last seven years, we’ve consistently enforced this rule globally, from Belarus and Iran to Thailand and Hong Kong. Civil movements all over the world rely on Telegram in order to stand up for human rights without resorting to inflicting harm,” Durov said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that the West is discussing the possibility of blocking the Telegram messenger.

The Telegram messaging service has been gaining popularity after the WhatsApp messenger changed its privacy policy, after Twitter and other social media platforms blocked outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s accounts due to the posts published on the day of the Capitol’s storming (the administration of these services believes that these posts might have provoked the violence), as well as after the AppStore and GooglePlay dropped the Parler app, which was actively used by Trump’s radical supporters. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Emmanuel Macron, and other foreign leaders have created their Telegram accounts. Trump is yet to do the same. Durov said on January 12 that the number of the messenger’s users had increased by 25 million over the prior 72 hours. In all, the service has surpassed 500 million monthly active users.

At least five people were killed in the riots on January 6, when Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol during the Congress vote to confirm Joe Biden’s victory as president. The protesters interrupted the process to certify the Electoral College vote. A number of lawmakers were evacuated. As soon as order was restored at the Capitol, the House and Representatives and the Senate finalized Biden’s win.

[article also appeared at interfax.com/newsroom/top-stories/70847/]