A question I often get–especially from cryptography experts:
What is it with furries and Telegram?
No, they’re almost certainly not talking about that.
Most furries use Telegram to keep in touch with other members of our community. This leads many to wonder, “Why Telegram of all platforms?”
The answer is simple: Stickers.
Telegram was the first major chat platform that allowed custom sticker packs to be uploaded and used by its users. This led to the creation of a fuckton of sticker packs for peoples’ fursonas.
How many furry sticker packs are there? Well, my friend Nican started a project to collect and categorize them all. You can find their project online at bunnypa.ws.
As of this writing, there are over 230,000 stickers across over 7,300 sticker packs (including mine). It also supports inline search!
Additionally, there’s a very strong network effect at play: Furries are going to gravitate to platforms with a strong furry presence.
With that mystery out of the way, I’d like to share a few of my thoughts about Telegram as a platform and how to make it manageable.
Don’t Use Telegram As a Secure Messenger
Instead, they ran a vapid “contest” and point to that as evidence of their protocol’s security.
If you’re a cryptography nerd, then you probably already understand that IND-CCA2 security is necessary for confidential messaging. You’re probably cautious enough to not depend on Telegram’s MTProto for privacy.
If you’re not a cryptography nerd, then you probably don’t care about any of this jargon or what it means.
It doesn’t help that they had another vulnerability that a renowned cryptography expert described as “the most backdoor-looking bug I’ve ever seen”.
So let’s be clear:
Telegram is best treated as a message board or a mailing list.
Use it for public communications, knowing full well that the world can read what you have to say. So long as that’s your threat model, you aren’t likely to ever get burned by the Durov family’s ego.
For anything that you’re not comfortable with being broadcast all over the Internet, you should use something more secure. Signal is the current recommended choice until something better comes along.
(Cwtch looks very good, but it’s not ready yet.)
Enable Folders to Make Notifications Reasonable
Last year, Telegram rolled out the ability to collect conversations, groups, and chats into folders. Most furries don’t know about this feature, because it doesn’t enable itself by default.
First, open the hamburger menu (on desktop) or click on your icon (on mobile), then click Settings.
Next, you’ll see an option for Folders.
You should see a button that says “Create New Folder”.
From here, you can include Chats or general types of Chats (All Groups, All Channels, All Personal Conversations) and then exclude specific entries.
Give it a name and press “Create”. After a bit of organizing, you might end up with a setup like this.
Now, here’s the cool thing (but sadly doesn’t exist on all clients–use Telegram Desktop on Windows and Linux if you want it).
Once you’re done setting up your folders, back out to the main interface on Desktop and right click one of the folders, then press “Mark As Read”.
Finally, an easy button to zero out your notifications. Serenity at last!
Note: Doing this to the special Unread folder is congruent to pressing Shift + ESC on Slack. You’re welcome, Internet!
Make Yourself Undiscoverable
In the default configuration, if anyone has your phone number in their address book (n.b. queerphobic relatives) and they install Telegram, you’ll get a notification about them joining.
As you can imagine, that’s a bit of a terrifying prospect for a lot of people. Fortunately, you can turn this off.
Under Settings > Privacy and Security > Phone Number, you can limit the discovery to your contacts (n.b. in your phone’s address book).
Turn Off Notifications for Pinned Messages
Under Settings > Notifications, you will find the appropriate checkbox under the Events heading.
A lot of furry Telegram groups like to notify all users whenever they pin a message. These notifications will even override your normal preferences if you disabled notifications for that group.
Also, you’re probably going to want to disable notifications for every channel / group / rando with very few exceptions, or else Telegram will quickly get super annoying.
Increase the Interface Scale
The default font size for Telegram is tiny. This is bad for accessibility.
Fortunately, you can make the font bigger. Open the Settings menu and scroll down past the first set of options.
Set the interface scale to at least 150%. It will require Telegram to re-launch itself to take effect.
Don’t Rely on Persistent Message History
This is just a cautionary footnote, especially if you’re dealing with someone with a reputation for gaslighting: The other participant in a conversation can, at any point in time, completely or selectively erase messages from your conversation history.
However, this doesn’t delete any messages you’ve already forwarded–be it to your Saved Messages or to a private Channel.
Aside: This is why, when someone gets outed for being a terrible human being, the evidence is usually preserved as forwarded messages to a channel.
Although Telegram isn’t in the same league as Signal and WhatsApp, its user experience is good–especially if you’re a furry.
I hope with the tips I shared above, as well as resources like bunnypa.ws, the Furry Telegram experience will be greatly improved for everyone that reads my blog.
Addendum: Beware the Furry Telegram Group List
A few people have asked me, “Why don’t you tell folks about furry-telegram-groups.net and/or @furlistbot?”
The main reason is that a lot of the most popular groups on that listing are either openly or secretly run by a toxic personality cult called Furry Valley that I implore everyone to avoid.