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Telegram makes it easy to switch from WhatsApp without losing anything

Published Jan 29th, 2021 7:11PM EST
WhatsApp vs. Telegram
Image: oatawa/Adobe

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  • Telegram updated its instant messaging app with a new move history tool that allows WhatsApp users to migrate all of their chat data between apps.
  • The update follows Facebook’s highly controversial decision to modify the WhatsApp privacy policy so that the social network can collect more user data from WhatsApp.
  • Millions of people have downloaded Signal and Telegram in response to the privacy changes, and Telegram’s new feature will make it easier for groups and families to leave WhatsApp without losing some of their favorite conversations.

A few weeks ago, Facebook informed WhatsApp users that a new privacy policy would come into effect soon to allow WhatsApp to collect and share user data with its parent company. The only way to opt out of the feature was to quit using the app, Facebook said. And that’s what many WhatsApp users started doing. While leaving WhatsApp seems impossible, unless you convince all your contacts to ditch the service, it is possible to replace popular instant messaging apps. Millions of people downloaded Signal and Telegram in response to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, forcing Facebook to defend its decision.

The WhatsApp privacy change has been postponed by three months, so WhatsApp users have until May to agree to it or switch to something else. Facebook insists that none of the privacy protections that WhatsApp users appreciate are going away. The chats and calls will continue to be end-to-end encrypted as before. But WhatsApp will still share user data with Facebook, and that might be all users need to seek an alternative. While Facebook is putting out this fire, Signal and Telegram make it even easier for users to ditch WhatsApp. And the latter now lets you take all your chat data with you too.

All three apps work on iPhone and Android, and WhatsApp and Telegram also have desktop clients. All three apps offer rich chat features, so it’s rather easy to adapt to either experience — Signal might be behind the other two when it comes to “fun” features, but it’s catching up. All three apps also offer end-to-end encryption, but this time around, it’s Telegram that stands out. Telegram doesn’t have end-to-end encryption enabled to all chats, only to secret conversations, which need to be enabled when needed. That’s all you need to know before even considering abandoning WhatsApp.

But Telegram seems really interested in stealing away more WhatsApp users. The company just issued an update that lets you import all the WhatsApp chats you might want to take with you. That way, leaving Facebook’s service might be easier said than done, not just for a single person but also for all their contacts.

The feature is actually brilliant if you think about it. A family or a group of friends can move to Telegram and take all their chats with them. Again, so you don’t forget: Telegram isn’t end-to-end encrypted by default like WhatsApp, Signal, and iMessage.

Telegram launched its move history tool on Thursday, making moving chats from WhatsApp to Telegram incredibly easy. The tool also works with other competing instant messaging services, but it’s clear that Telegram is taking advantage of the backlash against WhatsApp here.

The company detailed the move history feature on its blog, including the steps you need to take to transfer the data on iPhone and Android. It’s all effortless, and it all takes place on the device — here’s what you need to know.

  • To move a chat from WhatsApp on iOS, open the Contact Info or Group Info page in WhatsApp, tap Export Chat, then choose Telegram in the Share menu.
  • On Android, open a WhatsApp chat, tap ⋮ > More > Export Chat, then choose Telegram in the Share menu.

WhatsApp for iPhone also lets you export chats from the chat list by swiping left and then choosing Export Chat in the menu.

Telegram will get everything about chats, including the original timestamps, so the conversations you want to save will stay there. The company also says that all members of the chat will see the messages on Telegram. This would make switching from WhatsApp even easier.

Remember, however, that Telegram’s messages are not end-to-end encrypted. If that’s the kind of security, you expect from an instant messenger, either get ready to enable it for each chat session, go for Signal, or keep using WhatsApp.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.