Telegram MessengerSource: Luke Filipowicz/iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple has told Telegram that it needs to delete some messages because they have personally identifiable information in them.
  • Apple doesn't want Telegram to tell anyone why they've been removed, either.
  • All this relating to a Belarussian election that some claim was rigged..

There's a bit of a storm brewing between Apple and instant messaging app Telegram with the former telling the latter that it needs to remove some posts because they have personal information in them – information that could identify people said to have helped rig an election in Belarus. And it won't let Telegram tell anyone why the posts have been removed, either.

Jon Gruber does an excellent job of explaining the situation.

Telegram CEO Pavel Durov has been writing about a controversy that I think is fairly summarized as follows: Pro-democracy protestors in Belarus have been using Telegram to (among many other purposes, of course) post information about those who stole the recent election for President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Apple asked Telegram to delete certain posts on the grounds that the posts revealed personal information contrary to App Store rules for "user generated content".

The problem is, Apple won't let Telegram tell users why the posts have been removed.

Telegram CEO Pavel Durov has been writing about the farce.

Previously, when removing posts at Apple's request, Telegram replaced those posts with a notice that cited the exact rule limiting such content for iOS users. However, Apple reached out to us a while ago and said our app is not allowed to show users such notices because they were "irrelevant".

Similarly, when Facebook wanted to inform its users that 30% of the fees users were paying for online events went to Apple, Apple didn't let Facebook do it saying this information was (once more) "irrelevant".

I strongly disagree with Apple's definition of "irrelevant". I think the reason certain content was censored or why the price is 30% higher is the opposite of irrelevant.

None of this is simple, of course. But regardless of the actual removal of the posts themselves and whether Apple should be dipping into Telegram like this, the fact Apple doesn't want to be on the hook for it is crazy.

Gruber again:

I've said it before and will adamantly say it again: it is prima facie wrong that one of the rules of the App Store is that an app is not allowed to explain the rules of the App Store. I'm hard pressed to think of an exception to this conviction, not just on Apple's App Store, but in any sphere of life — whether a harmless game or the administration of the law.

The man has a point.