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Censorship on WhatsApp, is Telegram really better?
Censorship on WhatsApp, is Telegram really better?

Recently WhatsApp has been accused of censoring certain messages, depending on their content, and that it has a "fact checking" system (fact check) not very neutral, recommending Telegram as an alternative.

It is a rather complex issue, in which various misunderstandings are mixed, and which has also acquired a political aspect in the midst of the crisis of the coronavirus. WhatsApp's problems for facilitating the propagation of hoaxes are known, but on a technical level this case does not cast any doubt.

WhatsApp, at this moment, is not censoring messages. Although the idea was generated before, it really began to reach more people when this image was published from the Twitter of the Spanish party Vox:

Censorship on WhatsApp, is Telegram really better?
Censorship on WhatsApp, is Telegram really better?

The proposal to use Telegram is very reasonable, and also the function of the channels allows supporters to be kept informed at the moment. In fact, many parties have channels on Telegram, and it is one more communication tool.

We have compared Telegram vs WhatsApp, and in general Telegram is higher in privacy and functions, although it has much fewer users.

However, WhatsApp does not apply "censorship" in the sense that Nobody decides which messages we can forward to other people and which ones we can't, much less depending on your ideology, as the system is very different.

Limiting forwarding is not censorship

The forwarding of messages on WhatsApp allows the spread of very different hoaxes, many of them have political interests, but there are many types: dangerous he alth recommendations, alerts for threats that are not real, scams…

That is why WhatsApp has been tightening its measures against fake news. At first, forwarding was limited to 20 contacts, but most users noticed the change when WhatsApp was limited to 5 forwards at a time.

Just a few days ago, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, WhatsApp has further limited the forwarding of viral messages. If a message has been forwarded 5 times or more in the past, when we try to send it again it will only let us send it to one contactof each time.

Censorship on WhatsApp, is Telegram really better?
Censorship on WhatsApp, is Telegram really better?

The objective is to slow down the spread of hoaxes, but it applies to any content: be it a humorous text, a political message or any other content, including videos or photos.

Therefore, talking about censorship would be excessive, since it is applied in a general way.

In principle, WhatsApp cannot read the content of users. Although there are many doubts that the encryption of the application is as strong as they claim, there is nothing to suggest that they use it for censorship.

Part of the error is due to the fact that the WhatsApp website mentions Newtral and Maldita, two Spanish media outlets, as entities of fact checking:

Censorship on WhatsApp, is Telegram really better?
Censorship on WhatsApp, is Telegram really better?

According to the accusations, it would be these companies that apply the censorship, but they really have no role in WhatsApp, and only the phones so that users can consult their doubts about possible hoaxes and "fake news" (false news).

Actually, in WhatsApp there is no fact checking system, and the system that limits forwarding works without human intervention. While Instagram does indicate when information is false, and Facebook also has verifiers for fact checking, this does not happen in WhatsApp.

Telegram is more open, but with limits

The possibility of switching to Telegram to avoid the supposed censorship exists, as today Telegram does not limit the forwarding of messages.

Telegram has always been committed to privacy, its encryption system is public so anyone can confirm its security, and even moved its headquarters from Russia to Dubai to avoid government interference.

Now, to think that Telegram does not care at all about hoaxes and fake news would be a mistake. Due to the lower number of users compared to WhatsApp, for now it has not taken concrete measures against misinformation, but it should not be surprising if it did so in the future.

In fact, Telegram has collaborated with the WHO on its official channel on the coronavirus, so that users have reliable information. Although freedom is important on Telegram, it is placed far from alternatives such as Signal or Gab, where the control of creators is practically nil.

We are facing a confusion (by mistake or premeditated) that mixes various sources and reaches erroneous conclusions. Although WhatsApp does not apply censorship because it does not do fact checking, it only limits forwarding, Telegram is really a recommendable application, not only because of its greater freedom, but also because it brings more functions and your privacy is superior.

What do you think about this matter? Do you think that fact checking can end in censorship if it is not applied correctly?

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