San Francisco:  Amid the tense political situation in the US, encrypted messaging app Telegram has blocked and shut down hundreds of public calls for violence that could’ve otherwise reached tens of thousands of users in the country.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov said that the company welcomes peaceful debate and protest, but “our Terms of Service explicitly prohibit distributing public calls to violence”.

“Civil movements all over the world rely on Telegram in order to stand up for human rights without resorting to inflicting harm,” he said in a statement late on Monday.

For the last two weeks, the world has been following the events in the US with concern.

While the US represents less than 2 per cent of Telegram’s user base, the company said it has been watching the situation closely.

“In early January, the Telegram moderation team started to receive an increased number of reports about US-related public activity on our platform. The team acted decisively by clamping down on US channels that advocated violence,” Durov noted.

“The team continues to process reports from users in addition to proactively removing content that directly incites violence”.

Telegram has seen a significant uptake in new users as WhatsApp’s new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have triggered a fresh data sharing debate. It has crossed 525 million users.

“Telegram welcomes political debate coming from all sides of the political spectrum – but will act swiftly to stop those who incite people to inflict harm on others,” Durov said.

Durov, however, did not address Telegram’s encrypted chat feature that protects conversations from outside access and is not subject to centralised moderation.

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