How Telegram Became the Anti-Facebook


Hundreds of millions of users. No algorithm. No ads. Courage in the face of autocracy. Sound like a dream? Careful what you wish for.

On January 6, 2021, as a crowd of Donald Trump supporters began gathering for a rally near the foot of the Washington Monument, Elies Campo was spending a poignant afternoon at his family’s home in Tortosa, Spain. January 6—the feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day—is the high point of the holiday season there, when relatives visit and children open their presents. And Campo, a 38-year-old Spanish engineer who lives in Silicon Valley, had been largely stranded away from home since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. As he moved through the house, Campo was surrounded by uncles and aunts and cousins, and he got to hold a couple of their babies for the first time. His mind was about as far from the United States as it could possibly be.

That changed around 8 pm, when a friend in the US pinged to ask if Campo had seen the news out of Washington, DC. Then came an avalanche of similar messages about the mob that had just stormed the Capitol building. As Campo watched the scenes of violence unfold on his phone, a question started to eat at him: How was this going to affect his company?

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