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  • World - Asia
  • Updated: November 03, 2023

Telegram Restricts Access To Hamas-Affiliated Channels

Telegram Restricts Access To Hamas-Affiliated Channels

Telegram, the encrypted messaging app, has recently limited access to multiple channels associated with the Palestinian armed group Hamas.

Notably, Hamas's official account, the Qassam Brigades' account (its armed wing), and the Gaza Now news account are no longer accessible through versions of Telegram downloaded from Google Play and Apple's App Store.

However, these accounts remain accessible through the online version of Telegram and the version downloaded directly from Telegram's website.

The restrictions were implemented after the Zachor Legal Institute, a US-based lobby group advocating against "anti-Israel movements," brought attention to the fact that these accounts were accessible on iOS devices while being blocked on Android. Telegram has not publicly disclosed its reasons for this action.

Hamas, a group governing the Gaza Strip, is categorized as a "terrorist" organization by numerous countries.

Telegram has been a platform of choice for Hamas to disseminate its message and broadcast real-time violent content related to its activities.

However, Telegram has been criticized for its hands-off approach to content moderation, allowing various groups, including Hamas, ISIL (ISIS), and al-Qaeda, to promote their ideologies and share content related to their activities.

The challenges in moderating such content are significant, given the potential tension between the role of Hamas as the government of Gaza and the graphic nature of the violence depicted.

Telegram CEO Pavel Durov has defended the platform's loose moderation policies, emphasizing its value as a source of first-hand information for researchers, journalists, and fact-checkers.

“As such, it’s unlikely that Telegram channels can be used to significantly amplify propaganda,” Durov said.

He added; “Instead, they serve as a unique source of first-hand information for researchers, journalists and fact-checkers. While it would be easy for us to destroy this source of information, doing so risks exacerbating an already dire situation.”

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