A former US ambassador is suing Apple and Alphabet for hosting the encrypted messaging platform Telegram in private app stores, alleging that it is “being used to intimidate, threaten and coerce members of the public.”
Mark Ginsberg, who was the US ambassador to Morocco, has filed the lawsuits on behalf of his organization, the Coalition for a Safer Web, which calls for banning extremist content on the Internet.
The move comes weeks after the two companies banned the alternative messaging service that is popular with Conservative Parler for continuing to allow “violent content” in the wake of the congressional storming.
Both the encrypted messaging apps Telegram and Signal saw a significant increase in downloads after Parler was banned, peaking between 9 million and 7.5 million new subscribers per week, respectively.
Unlike Facebook or Twitter, the private messaging service – which was founded in 2013 by Pavel Durov and is based in Dubai – faces little criticism regarding the content.
On Telegram channels reviewed by Insider following the riots in the US Congress, a number of users expressed their desire for more violence before the inauguration of President Biden.
Ginsburg claimed in the complaint against Apple – which he filed with the Northern District Court in California last week – that he had suffered “economic and moral losses” after suffering anti-Semitic abuses that were organized via Telegram.
“Ambassador Ginsberg created the Alliance for a Safer Web to force social media platforms to end their tolerance of anti-Semitic rhetoric and not to enable extremist groups to escape impunity on social media,” the lawsuit read.
Bloomberg later reported that Ginsburg had filed a similar lawsuit against Google’s Alphabet Inc., in which he also claimed that the latter “had not taken any action against Telegram similar to the measure it took against Parler to force Telegram to improve its content modification policies.”
In both calls, Ginsburg claims that Telegram was used to facilitate “anti-Semitic, anti-black extremism and violence during the (Black Lives Matter) protests throughout the summer of 2020.”
“The Telegram media platform and services provide tremendous benefit and value to racist and anti-Semitic groups as a tool to connect their members and facilitate this group’s ability to communicate, recruit members, plan and execute attacks and spread fear in their enemies,” the lawsuit stated.
On the other hand, a Telegram spokesperson said, “Our supervision team continuously monitors public activity on the platform, processes reports from users, in addition to proactively removing public calls for violence.”
“In January, more than 3,000 public communities were banned for violating the company’s policy of non-advocacy of violence worldwide. Less than 6% of calls for violence around the world that were canceled in January were related to events in the United States,” he added. While less than 2% of the monthly active Telegram users are from the United States. “