Popular social messaging platform Telegram has blocked certain channels used by Hamas on Android phones, citing violations of Google’s app store guidelines. Two channels, hamas_com and al-Qassam brigades, were cut off for Android users, while other channels used by the group, such as Gaza Now, remain accessible. Telegram attributed the blocks to Google’s app store guidelines, which ban violent content related to terrorism within apps. The ban appears to be limited to the app downloaded from the Google Play Store, as it doesn’t extend to other operating systems or versions of the app downloaded elsewhere. Both Meta (formerly Facebook) and X (formerly Twitter) have also taken action to block Hamas-linked accounts and limit the spread of misinformation about the war on their platforms. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov expressed hesitation in shutting down Hamas-used channels, stating that moderating war-related coverage is challenging. However, Hamas also uses Telegram to spread videos of its attacks, according to Human Rights Watch. With the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) in effect, governments have more enforcement power over content moderation on social media platforms. Although Telegram isn’t listed as a “very large online platform” under the DSA, governments have successfully pressured the platform to take action in the past. In this case, Google confirmed that Telegram blocked the channels in compliance with Google Play Store guidelines.
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