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Telegram says it will remove terrorist content after Indonesia threatens a ban

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Telegram co-founder Pavel Durov says the company will create a team of moderators to remove ‘terrorist-related content’ as concerns over ISIS propaganda run high

Telegram Messaging App Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images

Telegram will create a team of moderators to remove “terrorist-related content” in Indonesia, co-founder Pavel Durov said on Sunday, after the Indonesian government threatened to ban the encrypted messaging app.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said on Friday that it would block access to Telegram if the company does not develop procedures to remove illegal content from its channels, pointing to concerns that the app was being used to spread “radical and terrorist propaganda.” As a preliminary measure, the ministry ordered service providers to block access to the web version of Telegram.

On Sunday, Durov said that Telegram had blocked channels that were reported by the government, and that the company would take additional steps to remove illegal content.

"We are forming a dedicated team of moderators with knowledge of Indonesian culture and language to be able to process reports of terrorist-related content more quickly and accurately," Durov said in a Telegram post, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Telegram has faced criticism from government authorities across the world for providing an encrypted platform that has become the messaging “app of choice” for terrorists. Durov has publicly resisted calls to install so-called back-doors that authorities could use to access encrypted messages, saying they would undermine privacy and security for millions of users.

“Telegram is heavily encrypted and privacy-oriented, but we’re no friends of terrorists— in fact, every month we block thousands of ISIS-related public channels,” Durov added on Sunday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Police in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, say that suspected militants have admitted to using Telegram to coordinate planned attacks and that the platform is used to share bomb-making instructions, as well. Officials across Southeast Asia have expressed concern over the growing presence of ISIS-affiliated militants, after an ISIS-linked rebel group seized the city of Marawi in the Philippines in May.