How to delete Telegram messages and chat histories
If you recently dumped WhatsApp for Telegram In an effort to protect your chat privacy, you probably want to know how to delete conversations from both your device and Telegram’s servers. This is not as easy as you may think.
Understand how Telegram stores your chats
There are two main types of chats on Telegram: cloud chats and secret chats. Cloud chats exist between you and other Telegram users (including public groups or channels) and are not end-to-end encrypted. Secret chats are never uploaded to a server and are end-to-end encrypted between the sender and recipient.
Telegram states that cloud chats are “stored heavily encrypted and the encryption keys are in each case stored in several other data centers in different jurisdictions” in an effort to protect your privacy. Without end-to-end encryption (where only the sender and recipient can decrypt messages), your chats could potentially be intercepted, even if they were encrypted on a server or in an app.
In addition, cloud chats (as the name implies) are stored in the cloud. This makes it easy for you to use Telegram on different devices as you can easily download conversations and message history.
Delete messages from Telegram
From Telegram 5.5 (released in March 2019), anyone can delete a message from a one-on-one chat from all devices. This includes both messages you have sent and messages you have received. There are no time limits and the message will be deleted from all devices, including the Telegram server.
Cloud chats with multiple participants work differently. You can only delete messages you’ve sent from everyone’s devices within 48 hours of sending them. After this, you can still delete a message, but it will remain on both the server and the recipients’ devices. If the recipients also delete the message, it will be gone forever.
To delete a message, tap and hold it and choose Delete.
You can then choose between “Delete for me” and “Delete for everyone”, or whoever you talk to.
One slightly confusing caveat worth noting is this: if you or a recipient are somehow using a version of Telegram older than 5.5 in a one-on-one chat, then you’re limited to the same 48-hour window and the same rules that currently exist for cloud chats.
If you want to delete all copies of such a message from Telegram’s servers, even the recipient’s copy, you must ask the message recipient to delete it on their device as well.
To delete the entire conversation, swipe right over it in the conversation list and choose Delete. You will be asked if you want to delete messages on your end or for the entire conversation.
Don’t forget push notifications
Being able to delete a message from a recipient’s device sounds like a godsend, akin to Gmail’s unsend feature, but it’s not quite the silver bullet that many users would wish for. This is because push notifications are handled differently.
If you message a friend who has push notifications enabled for Telegram (a messaging app isn’t much use without them), your message will still show up in their notifications. Most mobile devices delete notifications once tapped, but most still hold the bulk of an incoming message.
So while no record of your message appears in Telegram, a user can take a screenshot of their incoming notifications and save the message indefinitely.
How to delete everything you’ve ever sent
Want to delete everything you’ve ever sent? For a nuclear option, you can delete your entire Telegram account. But if you’ve sent sensitive messages containing private information to someone, you may need to ask them to delete their copies of those messages from their account to ensure all copies are removed from Telegram’s servers.
RELATED: How to Delete Your Telegram Account
Do you want privacy? Using Secret Chats
Cloud chats are convenient, and for everyday chats about what you’re going to eat, they pose little threat. However, if you want to take your privacy seriously, you should use Telegram’s private chats. To do this, tap a recipient’s name at the top of a conversation, tap More, then choose Start Secret Chat.
Tried Telegram but not convinced yet? Check out these alternative privacy-focused messaging apps.