Staying safe on Telegram: 5 ways to improve your privacy

Staying safe on Telegram: 5 ways to improve your privacy

Telegram is one of the most credible alternatives to WhatsApp and also one of the most feature-rich instant messaging apps. But it’s not necessarily the most privacy-friendly, so we’ll show you how you can improve your privacy settings as much as possible on Telegram.

This is something I have already mentioned in mine Telegram review : The standard settings are not good. By default, Telegram publicly displays your phone number and my entire contact list will be notified the moment I create an account.

Personally, I hate this kind of unwanted interaction where someone else can see or know if they are on a particular app or not. Fortunately, Telegram offers a number of security and privacy features that help control its visibility within the app.

Decide who can add you to a group or call

Telegram offers some options to manage only who can interact with your account and who can’t. One of them would be in the permissions settings which indicate who can add your account to a group or call.

This allows you to choose and prevent anyone from adding you to a group or calling without your knowledge, or simply limit that permission to your contacts or just some of them. This is a great option in my opinion, especially since your profile is publicly accessible by all members of a group.

To manage these permissions:

  1. Go up Settings and then select Privacy and security
  2. Go to Groups and / or Calls
  3. Choose who can add you to a group and / or a call: All I. my contacts (or Nobody for calls only)
telegram privacy how to stop adding to groups

Permission cannot be set to Nobody to be added to a group. At best, you can limit this interaction to just your contacts. But you can add exceptions, allowing you to ban one or more specific contacts from adding you to groups. Just manually add them to the list in Add exceptions .

When it comes to calling, it’s a completely different game. You can set the permission to Nobody in so that no user can add you to a call. And you can also add exceptions either way: to allow one or more contacts of your choice to call you despite the restriction being set to Nobody or to prevent them from calling you if the restriction is set to I. my contacts or All .

telegram privacy how to stop adding to calls

Hide your phone number

This is the most basic functionality and the one most Telegram users already know, but it is also probably the most useful for a new user. By default, your phone number is made public on Telegram. If you are in a public group, anyone who sees your profile can also see your number.

The first thing you need to do when launching the app for the first time is to hide your number. Thankfully, doing this is extremely simple:

  • Go to Settings followed by Privacy and Security section
  • Select the telephone number
  • In Who can see my phone number? select Nobody
  • In Who can find me via my number? select I my contacts
how to hide the telephone number telegram ITA

Again, you can’t stop everyone from finding you via your phone number. Someone in your contacts will still be able to find you. You will need to delete and / or block that contact if you want to remain truly anonymous. You can also add exceptions for one or more individual contacts so they can’t find you.

Hide your online status and last login

Unfortunately, it is not possible to disable the check marks that show if you have received / seen a message. On Telegram you can still hide your online presence or the last time you were active from the prying eyes of other users, so as not to be disturbed every time you connect to the messaging application.

Here’s how to hide the status Online And Last Access .

  1. Go to Settings and followed by the Privacy and Security section
  2. Go to Last login and online
  3. In Who can see the time of the last login? select Nobody
telegram privacy how to hide the last online login

This way, no one will be able to see that you are online or when you were last online. But this restriction works both ways, even you won’t be able to check that information of your contacts as well. And if you’ve only blocked specific contacts, you won’t be able to see their online status or when they were last online, but you’ll still be able to view that information with contacts you haven’t set any restrictions on.

In practical terms, you are not even totally invisible as Telegram still provides a rough estimate of when you were last connected. The only difference is that if you have limited access to this data as shown above, Telegram will not show the exact time of your last connection. Below, you can see the difference between displayed presence (left) and hidden presence (right).

telegram privacy how to see the difference for the last time

There are four possible approximate values ​​that Telegram shows every time you hide the last time you saw:

  • Last Recent Access: Covers any duration between 1 second and 2-3 days
  • Last viewed this week: between 2-3 and 7 days
  • Last viewed this month: between 6-7 days and one month
  • Last logged in a long time ago: more than a month (always appears even for users you have blocked)

Prevent your contacts from sharing your profile by forwarding your messages

Another unwanted interaction that can cause privacy concerns is the ability for your contacts to share your profile by forwarding one of your messages.

Outside of a secret or private chat, your messages can be forwarded by your contacts to other groups or discussions. By default, the forwarded message includes your (username) and will redirect anyone to your profile by tapping on it.

You can manage this potential privacy trap by following these steps:

  1. Go up Settings followed by Privacy and security
  2. Select Messages forwarded
  3. In Who can add a link to my account when I forward my messages? select Nobody
privacy telegram how to forward messages

You can also set exceptions to systematically allow or prevent one or more specific contacts from connecting to your profile when you forward your messages. Personally, I would like to have the option to go one step further and simply ban the forwarding of my messages.

Note that since Telegram version 8.0 was released on August 31, those who forward your messages have the option to hide the original author name before sharing the message with others. So, if you’ve allowed selected contacts to share your messages, don’t hesitate to ask them to hide your name.

Do not create a username

You can create a public username on Telegram which allows you to use the hyperlink t.me/username which allows anyone to contact you on Telegram without having to know your phone number.

This is a feature to avoid at all costs if you want to remain as private and incognito as possible on Telegram. It is possible that other users will find you by this username, where you will appear in the contact search under “global results”. Note that people who find you will be able to text you, even if they don’t know your number.

This is quite counterintuitive as the internet contains a vast repository of usernames which is normally used to remain anonymous as who can tell who is behind CaptainAvenger_1993’s handle? However, on Telegram, it’s the exact opposite. So, don’t create a username to save yourself such a headache.

In any case, even if you created a username and someone discovered you and contacted you, that person will not see your phone number (unless you have it hidden ).

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