WhatsApp's recent move to block Telegram links in their popular messaging app tells us that they are now seriously considering Telegram as a direct competitor.
Furthermore, these links can not be copied to mobile browsers or any other app. It's interesting though that apparently not all phones are affected. We tested Telegram links through WhatsApp on iOS and they seem to work for now – on Android they don't.
In the first screenshot, copying a simple text message works fine. On Android, the icons on top of the screen indicate that the selected text can now be copied.
As expected, on our second attempt we were not able to open or copy the link to our Support bot telegram.me/oratioBot.
However, after we shortened the the telegram.me link with a popular link shortener, we were able to click, forward and even copy the link – same as we are used to any other link within WhatsApp, including a link preview (which is by the way a feature that was first introduced by Telegram on April 6, 2015)
🚫 BLOCKED: Telegram.org
Telegram's main website is blocked on WhatsApp. This means that the link is not clickable and cannot be copied/pasted. If a user wants to open Telegram.org, he or she is therefore forced to memorize the link, open a browser window and manually enter the link.
🚫 BLOCKED: Telegram.me/username
Unlike WhatsApp, every Telegram user can claim a unique username that is discoverable through Telegram search. This also means that a Telegram username is not necessarily linked to a phone number.
Furthermore, every user with a valid username can also be found through a unique link – such as Telegram.me/username
Unfortunately, these links are now blocked on WhatsApp, too.
👍 ACCESSIBLE: Telegrambots.org
We run a side project named Telegrambots.org, which lists popular Telegram bots and promotes them.
Our first guess was that WhatsApp uses a blocking pattern that recognizes the word "telegram" in any URL, but this is apparently not the case. It's much more focused.
Telegram is not blocking WhatsApp links
We also tested if Telegram blocked WhatsApp links within their app, but this is currently not the case as you can see on this screenshot we took on Dec 1.
Is this the subtle beginning of the "messenger wars"?
Blocked links on WhatsApp is very likely not a major issue for Telegram, but it is definitely a message. Interestingly, on July 13, 2015 Telegram experienced a heavy DDoS attack in the Asia Pacific region.
At orat.io, we are curious what will come next and if Telegram will respond to this move in any way.
Follow @orat_io on Twitter and be the first to read our updates.
Update Dec 1, 16:45 CET
It is now confirmed that this behavior is not caused by a glitch in WhatsApp's Android app. It was built into the app on purpose, as the source code indicates. 1
Update Dec 3, 10:45 CET
Telegram's official Facebook page was taken down.
This Facebook page is mentioned on the FAQ page, which was already updated to reflect the recent changes. More infos at Telegram FAQ: Facebook
- Why Messengers will be the Future of UX, orat.io Blog (November 2015)
- WhatsApp Is Blocking Links To Rival App Telegram On Android, TechCrunch (December 2015)
- Telegram Suffers DDOS Following Criticism For Enabling Human Rights Lawyers In China, TechCrunch (July 2015)