You may be offered a free premium subscription to Telegram, but please do not accept it.

At first glance, getting a free premium subscription to Telegram directly from the company seems like a pretty good deal, giving you access to such features , like transcribing voice messages into texts. But the price of this particular free deal is too high …

Computer student AssembleDebug noticed this offering, which has so far been available to a small number of users in a few countries. He posted screenshots with the ironic comment: “What could go wrong?”

So what’s wrong? Telegram uses SMS to send one-time passwords to users who log in with two-factor authentication enabled. These messages cost the company money, so they want to use your cell phone to transmit the codes.

By choosing to relay up to 150 text messages per month, you will be rewarded with a free premium subscription for that month, saving you the regular fee of $5.

Aside from the clearly questionable idea of ​​using random mobile accounts to transfer sensitive data, there's also the fact that some carrier plans charge for text messages. The Verge notes the biggest problem: your phone number is visible to recipients.

Once an OTP is sent from your number, the recipient can simply text you back. People participating in the P2PL program are advised not to send text messages to OTP recipients even if they texted first, but Telegram has no way to enforce this, no way to prevent people from replying to an OTP text. This seems like a particularly bad place to use the honor system.

You make your phone number available to up to 150 random people every month. What could actually go wrong?

If this decision leads to harassment or other problems, Telegram will make it clear that it's your problem, not theirs. As AssembleDebug points out, the terms and conditions state that you have “considered all potential consequences this may entail and have taken the necessary precautions to mitigate them at your discretion.” Accordingly, you understand and agree that Telegram will not be responsible for any inconvenience, harassment or harm resulting from unwanted, unauthorized or illegal actions taken by users who obtained your phone number through P2PL.”

So yeah, don't do it.

Photo by Christian Widiger on Unsplash

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