IM the Change
How can chat power political protests?
On 12 June 2019, people of Hong Kong took to the streets to protest about their unhappiness and demand the Hong Kong government to withdraw the proposed amendments to the extradition law. Peaceful demonstrations soon turned ugly when the police used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.
Videos of the violence soon spread through social media like wildfire and it incited even more protestors to flood the street. Hundreds of thousands of citizens soon flooded the streets in protest against the bill. How did these citizens manage to organise themselves so quickly and efficiently? It was through the Instant Messaging App, Telegram. There are many different messaging applications for them to choose from on the market (e.g., Signal, WeChat, Whatsapp). Ultimately, why were protests organised on Telegram, and not on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, which are the 2 most popular IM Apps in Hong Kong? Here are 3 reasons:
Telegram is the go-to app for privacy. Telegram protects the user’s private conversations and personal data from any third party. “We have disclosed 0 bytes of user data to third parties, including governments,’ Telegram says on its website. This encourages protestors to use Telegram safely and without any fear of Telegram passing their information onto a third party.
Telegram has a feature called secret chats, which employs end-to-end encryption. This leaves no trace on Telegram’s servers, supporting self-destructing messages that cannot be forwarded. These chats are device-specific and are not part of the Telegram cloud.
Telegram packages itself as a secure messenger that third-parties cannot intercept. The blockchain technology used would translate to messages being stored on Telegram’s encrypted blockchain network. With a strong security protocol created in-house, MTProto, Telegram markets itself as a secure app that would not be hacked. Protesters could then use the application to send messages within groups and not be afraid of being spied on by their government. Hong Kong protesters are scared that their information online would one day be used against them in a court of law. Most protesters have gone as far as to install a virtual private network (VPN) on their smartphone to use Telegram, attempting to stay hidden from cyber monitors.
3. Powerful and Easy Coordination
Telegram has no limits on the size of the media sent and also a 100,000 member limit on a group chat. The possibility of adding up to 100,000 members in a group would allow for protestors to easily regroup their efforts and pass their messages on. Some of the groups created have up to 30,000 members, coordinating efforts on first aid and information of protesting efforts.
However, Telegram is not flawless. During the day of the protests, a cyber attack took place on Telegram, affecting 200 million users across the United States and some other countries. Telegram’s Twitter Account said that the service has faced an influx of “garbage requests” mostly from IP addresses originating in China. Pavel Durov, Telegram founder and CEO, confirmed that in a tweet, mentioning that “This was not an exception”. Even with its security measures and encryption, Telegram is still centralized and owned by a single entity. This creates a singular target for hackers.
Hence, expecting privacy in your communication should be the way going forward. Why should we allow for any platform to stand to own our information and decide what it wants to do with it? Blockchain technology has also been proven a wonder for data security because of its open-source public network. Hence, resulting in the information being immutable and secure.
The vision of Consentium is to transcend simplistic chat applications and develop a sustainable future-proof application that can serve to host core groups, business and propagate real-world communities.
Consentium allows the users to adjust chat rooms to their preferred privacy. This would allow for users to either encrypt their personal information and also have the option for messages to be destructed within a time period. On top of that, Consentium also allows channels with no limit on the number of members, giving users the opportunity to connect to as many people as possible. With our multi-featured chat options, we empower users to communicate and build your communities through your preferred methods.
Consentium champions the emergence of the crypto space and currency. We respect and understand the need for privacy, creating a safe space for users to connect with like-minded individuals all around the globe. At Consentium, we are constantly innovating and growing our ecosystem, to better connect our members. We hope that creators and innovators can use the Consentium platform for the greater good, bringing change and positivity to the world.
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