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Telegram Premium With Additional Features to Lure Users for Paid Subscription Launched

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Telegram Premium — the paid subscription that brings additional features to the messaging app — has been started rolling out to users. The premium tier enables users to access up to 4GB file uploads, faster downloads, and the ability to convert voice messages into text. Alongside the launch of the paid subscription, Telegram has introduced a list of improvements for all users on the platform, including the ones who are not purchasing the premium tier. The Dubai-based company has also announced that now it has over 700 million monthly active users.

In India, Telegram Premium is available at Rs. 469 a month on the iPhone. Pricing of the premium subscription on Android is yet to be announced. It is likely that the company would go with a country-wise phased approach.

By paying the monthly subscription, users on Telegram Premium get double the file uploads size limit that is of 4GB, up from the existing 2GB allocation, as announced in a blog post. This means that users will have more space for sharing files and media on the app.

Users on the free tier of Telegram will also be able to download large-size media and files that are coming from a Telegram Premium account and are above 2GB in size.

However, Telegram Premium is touted to offer a faster download experience to help users quickly access large media and files while on the go.

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Telegram Premium also enables users to follow up to 1,000 channels, create up to 20 chat folders with up to 200 chats each, and pin 10 chats in the main list. Paid users can also add a fourth account to the Telegram app. Further, the premium tier enables users to save up to 10 favourite stickers.

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The paid version also enables users to write a longer bio along with a link. Similarly, paid users get the ability to add more characters to media captions and respond using up to 400 favourite GIFs.

Telegram has also enabled its paid users to reserve up to 20 public t.me links. Additionally, the premium subscription enables Telegram users organise chat lists by changing the default chat folder. This will allow paid users to get a custom folder as the default destination each time when they open the app — in place of the existing All Chats tab.

Users subscribing to the premium tier can convert their voice messages to text using the company’s transcription support.

Some stickers available to paid users on Telegram get full-screen animations. The company also said that its premium sticker collection on the app would be updated monthly by different in-house artists.

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Full-screen animation effects in premium stickers can be viewed on the free Telegram tier. However, users on the paid plan can only get access to send these stickers.

In addition to the animated stickers, Telegram Premium users get over 10 new emoji. Users can also set animated profile pictures that will animate for all users when they look at their chats and chat lists.

Each premium subscriber gets a special badge that appears next to their name in the chat list, chat headers, and member list in groups to highlight their paid subscription. Users subscribing to Telegram Premium also get the ability to change their default app icon with a premium star, night sky, or turbo-plane.

telegram premium features image Telegram

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Telegram Premium brings transcription support and profile badges for paid subscribers

Photo Credit: Telegram

Users who subscribe to Telegram Premium will no longer see sponsored messages in large, public one-to-many channels.

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Aside from the updated experience available to paid users, Telegram has introduced improvements for all its users. These improvements include the ability to let group admins review new members before approving them to write in the chat. Users will see a Request to Join button to let admins have exclusive access to allow new members to join their group.

Admins can also chat with new users to let them follow the rules of their groups — before allowing them to start sending messages there.

Telegram has also added verification badges in chats for groups, channels, and bots that are related to a known personality or organisation.

The app verifies channels, bots, and public groups if they are already verified on at least two social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. However, unlike Twitter’s verification, individual user accounts on Telegram are yet given the ability to get verified.

Telegram has also enabled developers to include a photo or video in the “What can this bot do?” section of their bots to let them better describe the purpose and scope of their offerings on the platform.

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Users specifically on Android have received improved chat previews to let them view the whole chat by scrolling through them with a press and hold gesture — without marking them as read.

There are also new buttons to let you mark a chat as read, mute it, pin it, or delete it.

Android users have also received the option to automatically save media coming from users, groups, and chats to Gallery. Furthermore, Telegram users on Android have got better audio and video quality in voice and video messages.

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On iOS, there is an improved external sharing support on Telegram that brings an animated progress bar.

Telegram users on macOS have received an animated profile picture creator that users can generate custom profile pictures, with stickers, animated emojis, and colourful gradient background.

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Aside from the improvements meant for specific software platforms, Telegram said that it has included over 100 fixes and optimisations that are meant for all its mobile and desktop apps. These updates include bug fixes and speed improvements. Users on the latest iPhone and iPad models with ProMotion support also get smoother animations.

It is important to note that Telegram clearly said its latest update is being rolled out gradually. This means that you may need to wait for some time to get all the new features.

Meanwhile, Telegram announced that it now has over 700 million monthly active users. This shows an increase of 200 million users in its monthly active user base over January 2021 when it surpassed the mark of 500 million users.

Despite the growth, Telegram is lagging far behind WhatsApp that has a base of more than two billion users around the world.

Nevertheless, Telegram’s move to start monetising its growing user base by introducing the premium tier seems interesting as WhatsApp — alongside other messaging platforms — have not yet brought a paid subscription to generate revenues from their consumers. The Meta-owned app, though, has businesses in focus to monetise its platform in the future.

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Mark Zuckerberg Calls Apple’s App Store Moderation Rules a ‘Conflict of Interest’

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Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said that Apple’s App Store presents a conflict of interest, adding his voice to a flurry of criticism of the iPhone maker’s software policies. “It is problematic for one company to be able to control what app experiences end up on a device,” Zuckerberg said Wednesday in an interview at the New York Times DealBook conference. The “vast majority of profits in mobile ecosystem go toward Apple,” he added.

App Store policies and fees implemented by Apple, and to a lesser extent Google parent Alphabet, have long been a point of contention for technology companies looking to reach broad mobile audiences. Billionaire Elon Musk added to the chorus after his acquisition of Twitter, sending a flurry of tweets this week denouncing Apple’s fees and restrictions on what apps can be sold.

Zuckerberg echoed some of Musk’s points. He called Apple’s content moderation rules for apps a “conflict of interest” since they are often pointed at rivals. It makes Apple “not just a governor looking out for people’s interests.” Revenue at Meta, which owns social networks Facebook and Instagram, has taken a hit since Apple tightened its privacy policies to restrict how users can be tracked and targeted with advertising.

Though Zuckerberg seemed to back up his objection to Apple’s policies, Musk on Wednesday walked back some of his criticism of the iPhone maker, saying he met with CEO Tim Cook at the company’s headquarters and had a “good conversation” that resolved a “misunderstanding” about Twitter’s place in the App Store.

As for Musk’s approach to running Twitter, Zuckerberg hedged his comments — he said he guesses that some approaches will work and others won’t. “I think it’ll be very interesting to see how this plays out,” he said.

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On whether Meta would allow former US President Donald Trump back onto Facebook, Zuckerberg didn’t answer, but pointed to prior guidance the company has gotten from its external Oversight Board, weighing in on difficult content decisions. Meta is expected to make a decision in January.

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Wall Street has become increasingly bearish on Meta’s investment in its money-losing virtual reality business amid slowing ad revenue. Earlier this month, Zuckerberg said the company would slash more than 11,000 jobs, and took personal responsibility for decisions that led to the need to cut costs. In April, Meta reported its first-ever quarterly revenue drop.

The interview Wednesday began with a recorded conversation between Zuckerberg and the moderator as avatars in the immersive digital world the company calls the metaverse. Still, Zuckerberg said the idea that Meta is wholly focused on the metaverse is “basically wrong.” Messaging program WhatsApp will be his next major monetization target, he said, as that platform is “largely untapped.”

He cited progress in Reels, the company’s short video feature, saying some estimates show it has half the traffic of viral video-sharing app TikTok outside of China.

Zuckerberg also raised the issue of TikTok’s ownership by Beijing-based ByteDance, adding that there are “real questions” about the influence of China’s government on TikTok. “In a lot of countries, all data goes to the government,” the CEO said.

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© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.


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Twitter Faces Ban Over Content Moderation, EU Chief Warns Elon Musk: Report

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The European Union has threatened Elon Musk’s Twitter with a ban unless the billionaire abides by its strict rules on content moderation, setting up a regulatory battle over the future of the social media platform, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton made the threat during a video meeting with Musk on Wednesday, the FT reported, citing people with knowledge of the conversation.

Breton told Musk he must adhere to a checklist of rules, including ditching an “arbitrary” approach to reinstating banned users and agreeing to an “extensive independent audit” of the platform by next year, according to the report.

Twitter and the EU did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Breton had previously urged Musk to comply with landmark EU rules against online hate speech and disinformation. The European Commission’s justice chief Didier Reynders had also voiced similar comments.

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Reuters reported in October that Elon Musk had assured the European Commission that Twitter will continue to abide by tough European rules on illegal online content policing now the social network has passed under his ownership.

The assurances from Musk appeared to suggest a pragmatic attitude from the CEO of electric car maker Tesla, who has previously expressed his desire to see Twitter have fewer limits on content that can be posted.

In May this year, EU industry chief Thierry Breton met Musk in Texas and the two signalled agreement on EU digital media regulation ahead of Musk’s purchase of Twitter.

The previous meeting came weeks after the world’s richest man clinched a deal to buy the social media company for $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,40,270 crore) in cash.

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In a video with the two men posted on Twitter by Breton, the EU official tells Musk that he explained the Digital Services Act to Musk. “It fits pretty well with what you think we should do,” Breton tells Musk in a tweet that included the hashtag #DSA.

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“I think it’s exactly aligned with my thinking,” Musk responds.

The two did not go into detail on the new law, which levies hefty fines on companies if they do not control illegal content. The rules ban advertising aimed at children or based on religion, gender, race, and political opinions, for example.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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Twitter Not Safer Under Elon Musk Leadership, Says Former Head of Trust and Safety

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Twitter’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth on Tuesday said the social media company was not safer under new owner Elon Musk, warning in his first interview since resigning this month that the company no longer had enough staff for safety work.

Roth had tweeted after Musk’s takeover that by some measures, Twitter safety had improved under the billionaire’s ownership.

Asked in an interview at the Knight Foundation conference on Tuesday whether he still felt that way, Roth said: “No.”

Roth was a Twitter veteran who helped steer the social media platform through several watershed decisions, including the move to permanently suspend its most famous user, former US President Donald Trump, last year.

His departure further rattled advertisers, many of whom backed away from Twitter after Musk laid off half of the staff, including many involved with content moderation.

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Before Musk assumed the helm at Twitter, about 2,200 people globally were focused on content moderation work, said Roth. He said he did not know the number after the acquisition because the corporate directory had been turned off.

Twitter under Musk began to stray from its adherence to written and publicly available policies toward content decisions made unilaterally by Musk, which Roth cited as a reason for his resignation.

“One of my limits was if Twitter starts being ruled by dictatorial edict rather than by policy … there’s no longer a need for me in my role, doing what I do,” he said.

The revamp of the Twitter Blue premium subscription, which would allow users to pay for a verified checkmark on their account, launched despite warnings and advice from the trust and safety team, Roth said.

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The launch was quickly beset by spammers impersonating major public companies such as Eli Lilly, Nestle and Lockheed Martin.

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Roth also said Tuesday that Twitter erred in restricting the dissemination of a New York Post article that made claims about then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son shortly before the 2020 presidential election.

But he defended Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend Trump for risk of further incitement of violence after the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

“We saw the clearest possible example of what it looked like for things to move from online to off,” Roth said. “We saw people dead in the Capitol.”

Musk tweeted on November 19 that Trump’s account would be reinstated after a slim majority voted in favour of the move in a surprise Twitter poll.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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