WhatsApp (or rather, Meta’s parent company) is on the attack — a few months ago Mark Zuckerberg claimed that “WhatsApp is more secure than iMessage,” and now another messaging app, Telegram, has been called out by Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp at Meta.
Cathcart quoted an article by Wired and his own criticism of Telegram’s implementation of end-to-end encryption (E2EE). This has not been independently verified, Cathcart says, and there are other drawbacks, for example, it is not enabled by default and E2EE is not available for group chats (due to problems it can cause when backing up your data, according to Telegram itself).
Telegram is not end-to-end encrypted by default and does not offer e2ee to groups. From the article: “Telegram has the ability to share almost any confidential information requested by the government”
– Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) February 10, 2023
The Telegram team has its own criticisms of WhatsApp. For example, the option to back up chats to Google Drive effectively disables encryption since backups are not encrypted and government agencies can petition Google for data instead of WhatsApp.
Of course, both parties have an interest in claiming that their service is superior to the other’s. You can read Cathcart Twitter topic For more details on his criticism of Telegram. This Wired article is also worth a read, as it lists several instances in which Russian authorities appear to have access to secret Telegram chats. There’s more, Telegram’s flawed location API may have given users’ locations down to a radius of 3 km / 2 miles. Telegram has reworked the API but may not have actually fixed the issue.