Apparently, WhatsApp feels threatened by Telegram, an encrypted messenger service growing in popularity. First documented on Reddit, user Shlagger noticed that links inside WhatsApp chats related to Telegram cannot be tapped or copied. The behavior appears to be limited to the Android version.
The Facebook-owned messenger service is blocking the activation of links for any Telegram messenger URLs, including telegram.me and telegram.org, both of which point to the Telegram service. Even the unrelated telegram.com, a local news site based in Worcester, Massachusetts, is being blocked as a linkable URL, indicating that the word "telegram" inside any URL is targeted.
Facebook has been known to engage in similar blocking of links related to certain competitors. Wired reported recently that the social network was blocking links related to Tsu.co, a new social network that pays its users a share of ad revenue from posts, under the guise of protecting users from scams. But as Wired reports, even some news items related to 'Tsu' are seemingly blocked.
Telegram CEO Pavel Durov publicly criticized WhatsApp for its weaknesses including user experience and privacy, areas that Telegram is prioritizing as key customer needs. Whether or not WhatsApp’s reaction to Telegram’s rising popularity or pointed criticisms is justified, the user count comparison seems to point to a bit of paranoia on WhatsApp’s part: the behemoth has over 900 million active users, while Telegram counts about 60 million.
One has to question the wisdom of blocking links to a competitor in private chats with limited audiences of two or more people, since news of competitive link blocking has created attention for Telegram that far exceeds any visibility in chats.