Former US ambassador claims Telegram has been used to incite racist violence
- A former US ambassador is suing Apple and Google for hosting messaging app Telegram.
- Millions migrated to the service following bans on conservative platform Parler.
- In two lawsuits, Marc Ginsberg claims Telegram has been used to incite racist violence.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
A former US ambassador is suing Apple and Alphabet for hosting the encrypted messaging platform Telegram on their app stores, claiming it is "being used to intimidate, threaten and coerce members of the public."
Marc Ginsberg, once US ambassador to Morocco, filed the suits on behalf of his organization, the Coalition for a Safer Web, which advocates for greater regulation of extremist content online.
The move comes weeks after both firms banned Parler, the alternative messaging service popular with conservatives, for continuing to allow "violence-inciting content" in the wake of the storming of the US Capitol.
Encrypted messaging apps Telegram and Signal each saw a significant uptick in downloads after the Parler bans occurred, peaking at 9 million and 7.5 million a week, respectively.
Unlike Facebook or Twitter, private messages on Telegram face little risk of moderation. The firm was founded in 2013 by Pavel Durov and is based in Dubai.
In Telegram channels reviewed by Insider in the wake of the riots at the US Capitol, users voiced their desire for further violence and real-world action ahead of President Biden's inauguration.
In a complaint against Apple filed with the Northern District court in California last week, Ginsberg claims to have suffered "economic losses as well as emotional distress" after being subjected to anti-Semitic abuse organized through Telegram.
"Ambassador Ginsberg created the Coalition for a Safer Web to compel social media platforms to end their tolerance of anti-Semitism as well as their enabling of extremist groups to operate with impunity over social media," the suit reads.
Bloomberg later reported that Ginsburg had filed a similar suit against Google's parent company Alphabet, in which he likewise alleged that Google "has not taken any action against Telegram comparable to the action it has taken against Parler to compel Telegram to improve its content moderation policies."
In both suits, Ginsburg claims Telegram was used to facilitate "anti-Semitic and anti-Black extremism and violence during the Black Lives Matter ("BLM") protests throughout summer of 2020."
"Telegram's media platform and services provide tremendous utility and value to racist and anti-Semitic groups as a tool to connect its members and to facilitate these group's ability to communicate, recruit members, plan and carry out attacks, and strike fear in its enemies."
A Telegram spokesperson said: "Our moderation team is constantly monitoring public activity on the platform, processing reports from users as well as proactively removing public calls for violence
"In January, over 3,000 public communities were banned for violating the company's "no calls for violence" policy globally. Less than 6% of the calls for violence around the world that were taken down in January were related to events in the US. Overall, less than 2% of Telegram's monthly active users are from the United States."
Insider approached Google, Apple, and the Coalition for a Safer Web for further comment.
Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you
Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.