Don’t Opt Into Telegram’s Free Premium Offer: Here’s Why

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Key Takeaways

  • Opting into Telegram’s P2PL program in exchange for a free Telegram Premium subscription could have financial and privacy implications.
  • Volunteering your number could result in unwanted contact from strangers and scammers.
  • If you have already opted in, there’s a way to withdraw from the program.

If you’re a Telegram user on Android, you may have received a notification offering you free Telegram Premium in exchange for volunteering your phone number as part of Telegram’s Peer-to-Peer Login (P2PL) Program. But the offer is not worth it if you take the privacy and financial implications into account.

What Is Telegram’s P2PL Program?

The new program made headlines when users spotted a prompt in the app that offered free Telegram Premium. Telegram Info English shared the information on its Telegram channel, which was also posted on X by user AssembleDebug.

The program is confirmed by Telegram’s P2PL Terms of Service, which explains how it works. The terms note that you can opt into the program in exchange for a Telegram Premium subscription:

“To help ensure that users in all areas can reliably receive OTPs, Telegram offers a Peer-to-Peer Login Program (“P2PL”) that allows users of the direct Telegram for Android app (“Telegram App”) to volunteer their phone number as a relay for SMS login codes, in exchange for a Telegram Premium subscription.”

If you opt in, Telegram will use your phone number as a relay to send a maximum of 150 OTP SMS messages per month to Telegram users receiving their verification codes. However, if you value your privacy (and your budget), you should steer clear of the program.

Why You Shouldn’t Opt Into Telegram’s Peer-to-Peer Login Program

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The first red flag of the terms is that by opting into the program, you will cover the expenses incurred by the SMSes yourself. These expenses include “carrier rates, additional fees, and any international SMS charges that may apply from time to time”.

Telegram also notes that it will not reimburse you for these fees at any point. Telegram Premium includes multiple benefits and features, but don’t forget that it only costs $4.99 per month. The costs you incur from Telegram using your number in the P2PL program, however, don’t have a cap. You may see these fees jump if a large portion of the 150 monthly SMSes are for international SMSes, for example.

If you opt in, it’s entirely possible you could end up losing money, even with the savings you get from the free Telegram Premium.

Then there’s the privacy issues. As Telegram’s terms note:

“Telegram cannot prevent the OTP recipient from seeing your phone number upon receiving your SMS. Therefore, you acknowledge and agree that you have considered any and all potential repercussions this may entail, and you have taken the necessary precautions to mitigate them as you see fit.”

This is another major red flag, especially since the terms state that you cannot hold Telegram liable for any “inconvenience, harassment, or harm resulting from unwanted, unauthorized, or illegal actions undertaken by users who became aware of your phone number through P2PL”.

If you’ve received scam phone calls and unsolicited marketing calls, you’ll know the inconvenience that can be caused when your number ends up in the wrong hands—even when you take care not to expose your number. Telegram’s P2PL program could result in your number ending up in the hands of multiple bad actors.

All things considered, the drawbacks to volunteering your number appear to outweigh the benefits you could get from earning free Telegram Premium. So if you’re an Android user who receives a prompt to join, you should stay away if you want to protect your privacy and your budget. The program may even be a reason to stop using Telegram.

If you have already opted in, Telegram notes that you can withdraw. If you uninstall the app or log out of Telegram, this will be considered a withdrawal from the program.

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