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Telegram update adds auto-delete option to all messages, expiring invites, and more

Another way to keep messages private

The Telegram logo repeated on a blue background. Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Telegram is updating its messaging app with options for auto-deleting messages, expiring invite links, and new unlimited groups, the company shared in a blog post. Much like Signal, Telegram received a burst of new users in the confusion over WhatsApp’s privacy policy and now the company is adopting features that were already part of its competitors’ apps, features which offer more security and privacy.

Auto-deleting messages were already possible in Telegram’s encrypted Secret Chats, but this new update for iOS and Android adds the option to make messages disappear in any kind of chat. Auto-delete can be enabled inside of chats, and set to delete either 24 hours or seven days after messages are sent. Auto-delete won’t remove every message though; if a message was sent before the feature was turned on, it’ll stick around. Telegram’s competitors have had similar features: WhatsApp introduced a feature in 2020 and Signal has had disappearing messages since at least 2016.

Messages can auto-delete after 24 hours or seven days.
Image: Telegram

Telegram’s also making changes to groups that might allow for the kind of immediate, informative audio experiences that have become popular on Clubhouse. New “Broadcast Groups” allow for an unlimited number of members, but limit creating posts to group admins so they can, well, broadcast. Voice chats on the other hand are open to everyone in a broadcast group, and Telegram thinks the feature should be “ideal for large communities, where people can follow along and catch exclusive interviews, news, or just casual talks”.

To help keep these groups exclusive (or grow them fast) Telegram is adding in expiring invite links that can be set to expire after a certain number of uses, a certain amount of time, or both. With the new invites, group admins should be able to better moderate who joins and keep private subject matter a little more private.

Invite links can be set to expire after a certain number of uses or a set duration.
Image: Telegram

Many users left WhatsApp for Telegram out of concern that Facebook would read their messages. Expanding privacy features like auto-delete seems like a good way for Telegram to address those concerns. But even with new privacy options, Telegram still doesn’t universally offer a feature many users expect — end-to-end encryption.

All messages on Telegram are technically encrypted, but Secret Chats are the only ones that are exclusively viewable on the devices of the people participating. It’s a difference that Telegram says enables features like the new broadcast groups, but even with auto-delete it might be a dealbreaker for you.

You can see the full list of new features on Telegram’s blog.