First up, Telegram is pushing the upper limit of groups from 1,000 people to 5,000 people — this comes just four months after the company increased the limit from 200 people to create the thousand-strong so-called “supergroups.” These groups are distinct from normal groups — once your group reaches 200 people you can now elect to upgrade it to supergroup status which optimizes it for larger communities of people. For example, new members will be able to see the whole message history when they join, and when someone deletes a message it will be deleted for everyone in the group. Also, because supergroups can be particularly large, notifications are muted by default to prevent your phone from buzzing itself into oblivion.
Above: Telegram Public
In addition to larger groups, Telegram now lets users push supergroups to the public using a shareable short link, meaning anybody can view the group’s conversation history — but they’ll need to join before they can post messages. Group admins will also be given extra controls to thwart spammers, including blocking and reporting tools. Public groups are already live in Europe and the U.S., and will be rolling out gradually to other countries, though interestingly Telegram said that “several countries in Asia” don’t yet have the feature due to a history of “significant spam activity.”
Elsewhere, Supergroup admins can also now pin important news to the top of a chat, meaning everyone who joins for the first time or opens the app after some time away, will see the message. This is similar to features in other messaging apps and social networks, such as Twitter which lets you pin a tweet to the top of your timeline.
Founded in 2013 by Pavel Durov (creator of Russian social networking giant VK) and his brother Nikolai, Telegram has emerged as a major player in the increasingly competitive chat app realm. This is in part due to the company’s focus on encryption, while the app also offers a secret chat feature that makes it easy to delete messages or schedule a time for them to self-destruct.
A few weeks back, Telegram announced it had passed 100 million monthly active users (MAUs), representing a 60 percent rise in just nine months. While this is still some way off its competition, with the likes of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp which claim almost two billion MAUs between them, it’s still a sizable entourage of users. And by focusing on building not only the size of the groups but also the visibility, the company’s hoping it can maintain its recent growth spurt.