Telegram users on WhatsApp have alleged that the Facebook-owned chat app was blocking any links to Telegram.me, its rival chat app. Telegram has the notoriety associated with it that it is a favourite chat app with Isis militants but its popularity has been booming in recent times.
According to verge.com, the Telegram URLs still appeared as messages, but did not register as hyperlinks and users were blocked from copying them to paste into another app, effectively treating them like malware or spam. The blocks haven't extended to every device but in the affected ones both usernames and links to individual messages or chat rooms have been blocked.
Verge.com contacted Telegram which confirmed the activity. Updates being pushed by WhatsApp are slowly reaching all the devices using the app and enabling them to block Telegram. A side effect of this activity was that even Telegram.com, an unrelated URL owned by a newspaper in Massachusetts, has also been hit.
Link blocks are known to be used by Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, and have been used in the past for blocking pirate sites like Pirate Bay and, more recently the social network Tsu.co. This is the first time such a tool has been seen operating in WhatsApp to block a rival.
Telegram apparently is not too concerned about the activity. "Typically after a media backlash, FB steps back and blames their intelligent filtering for the problem," a Telegram spokesperson said. "We expect the same to happen this time as well." Facebook and WhatsApp did not respond to a request for comment from verge.com.