8 Telegram Privacy Settings You Should Enable Immediately

8 Telegram Privacy Settings You Should Enable Immediately
Photo: BigTunaOnline, Shutterstock

Telegram is a popular alternative to messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. But while users might flock to Telegram to avoid Meta’s questionable privacy policies, the app has a lot of privacy-friendly options that aren’t actually enabled by default. Let’s run through the best ones, and why you should enable them.

Use secret chats for privacy

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Unlike apps such as Signal and WhatsApp, Telegram’s chats aren’t end-to-end encrypted by default — that means that your chats aren’t truly private out of the box. However, Telegram does have a feature called Secret Chats, which is protected by end-to-end encryption.

You can enable encryption by opening any chat in Telegram, tapping the contact’s name > three-dots icon > Start Secret Chat. Your contact will receive a secret chat request, and once they approve it, the two of you will be private.

There are some inconveniences with Telegram’s Secret Chat feature, though, including that it doesn’t work on all devices, so you may be able to start these chats from your phone but not from Telegram’s desktop apps. Secret Chat is also device-specific, which means that if you start a chat from your iPhone, you won’t be able to see it on your Android.

Hide your phone number

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Telegram allows you to hide your phone number from everyone. You can get it done by going to Telegram settings > Privacy and Security > Phone Number. Select Nobody to hide your number from everyone.

Delete your old profile pictures (or hide them from strangers)

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Every profile picture you ever uploaded to Telegram is stored on your profile, and anyone can go to your profile and swipe to see them. If you want to avoid it, you can tap your profile picture on Telegram and hit Edit. You can now swipe right to see all your old photos.

On iPhone, you can delete old photos by tapping the trash icon in the bottom-right corner of the page. On Android, this can be done by tapping the three-dots in the top-right corner and selecting Delete.

While you’re at it, you should also hide your profile picture from strangers. Go to Telegram settings > Privacy and Security > Profile Photo. Select My Contacts on the next page.

Remove links to your account in forwarded messages

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If someone forwards one of your texts to others on Telegram, the app adds a link to your profile along with the forwarded message. You can stop that by going to Telegram settings > Privacy and Security > Forwarded Messages. Select Nobody from this list to remove the link. Your name will still be attached to forwarded messages, but you can update your Telegram bio to change your name to just initials or your nickname for better privacy, if you want.

Stop people from calling you or adding you to groups

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Telegram calls are a good alternative to regular phone calls, but if you don’t want to use the calling feature in this app, you can disable it. Go to Telegram settings > Privacy and Security > Calls and select Nobody.

You can also stop strangers from adding you to Telegram groups by going to Telegram settings > Privacy and Security > Groups & Channels and selecting My Contacts.

Control which photos are saved automatically

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You can stop Telegram from saving incoming photos directly to your phone’s gallery, allowing you to view them without adding them to your camera roll and taking up space on your phone. You can do that by going to Telegram settings > Data and Storage > Save Incoming Photos and disabling all the options on the page.

For even better privacy, you can automatically delete photos and videos from Telegram at a specific time interval. Head over to Telegram settings > Data and Storage > Storage Usage and move the slider up top to 3 days, 1 week, or 1 month.

Delete contacts stored on Telegram servers

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You can use Telegram without giving it access to your address book. If you previously had given Telegram access to your contacts, you can easily delete all of your contacts from Telegram’s servers. Doing this will leave you with usernames and phone numbers in your chat list instead of names stored in your contact list. This makes it harder to identify who you’re texting, but for some people the trade-off is worth it for better privacy.

You can accomplish this by going to Telegram settings > Privacy and Security > Data Settings > Delete Synced Contacts.

Add a passcode lock

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Finally, you can keep your Telegram chats away from prying eyes by setting up a passcode lock in the app. Visit Telegram settings > Privacy and Security > Passcode to get it done.

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