The big alternatives are worse for most people:
* either show your phone number to others (Signal, WhatsApp)
* are paid (Threema)
* aren't straight forward (XMPP, Matrix)
That leads to network effects. Telegram also has support for huuuge channels, I heard that's a distinguishing feature for some.
If I had to choose I'd use threema, but like 3 of my contacts have it and I also have them on telegram, so that's what I use for non-critical comms out of inertia.
- better performance and responsiveness
- better user experience
- easy multi-device support
- support for very large groups
in some regions of the earth it's more popular than whatsapp and the quasi-standard.
they definitely seem to censor less
if you want large public group chat, it's like twitter anyway, spooks could be present, so e2e encryption wouldn't help much.
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