Two and a half weeks after the beginning of the war, Hamas has been partially restricted on popular messaging platform Telegram. This development unfolded on Monday when the platform began blocking channels associated with the terrorist organization on its Android app, which is downloaded through the Google Play Store.
This move apparently came in response to a demand from Google. However, these channels remain accessible on the platform's desktop and iOS versions, as well as on Android versions available for direct download from Telegram's website. This suggests that the restriction was not initiated by the platform itself.
Users attempting to access Hamas' Telegram channels or those of its military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, using the Android version available on Google Play Store, receive the following message: "Unfortunately, this channel cannot be displayed on Telegram apps downloaded from Google Play Store."
For those still interested in following these channels, Telegram offers a workaround – bypass the Google Play Store and download the Android app directly from their website. A Ynet examination indicates that this version, which is not subject to Google's rules, allows users unhindered access to Hamas channels.
The fact that Hamas was solely restricted in the version distributed by Google suggests that the move was imposed on Telegram. The platform is renowned for its lenient user policies, but in recent years, it has inadvertently become a haven for cybercriminals, sex offenders and terrorists.
Refusing to comply with Google's demand could potentially lead to the removal of the app from the Google Play Store, a central distribution channel in the mobile market, alongside Apple's App Store.