Telegram and Discord are quickly changing the way users, companies, and gamers interact with one another, share information, and make announcements. Both apps allow chat messages, voice calling over IP, and creating large groups of users. That is just not possible in a mobile messaging app like WhatsApp.
While I am not as active in the gaming scene as I used to be back when CS 1.6 was a thing, I do enjoy using Discord, a VoIP app built for the gamers. I recently started using it and find it engaging as well as fun. Also, it vaguely reminds me of Yahoo! Group Chats.
On the other hand, as I like to follow the blockchain related news and stay updated on projects that interest me. For that, I have been using Telegram lately. Most ICOs and blockchain projects use Telegram for making announcements and engaging in discussions.
I am sure that several other communities use Discord and Telegram equally. You can find communities with users interested in a diverse range of topics and categories. Both the apps are free, easy to use, allow users to invite others easily, and offer many ways to communicate.
We'll take a look at how these two apps differ from each other and which one is a better option for you.
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1. Groups, Channels, and Servers
Both Telegram and Discord allow you to create groups and channels. While quite a few people use the terms interchangeably, they mean different things for both the apps. And then there are servers on Discord.
Groups in Telegram are designed to hold up to 200 members where each member can add new members. Once the group crosses the 200 member limit, you can turn it into a supergroup which can hold up to 100,000 members.
Channels can hold an unlimited number of members where you, as a channel owner, can broadcast messages and make announcements to your users or subscribers. The channel members can't respond to a particular message.
Note: New users on a Channel can see the entire history of messages.
Discord works differently and is highly scalable. It will create a server which can hold a maximum of 500 channels with no limit on the number of users the channels or servers can onboard. Short and easy to remember.
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2. Security and Privacy
Telegram Groups and Channels are end-to-end encrypted offering better peace of mind to users who can either be professional or casual. You can also use the Secret Chat feature for a more secured chat or file exchange. Telegram has been banned in Russia because the founders decided not to share their users’ data with the government. That is one reason why business users prefer Telegram over Discord which is geared more towards gamers and offers no encryption.
However, Telegram's decision to use their in-house encryption tech MTProto over existing Signal protocol has drawn some flak. Telegram then published an article on their blog to explain the difference.
Telegram allows you to delete any message that you sent within 48 hours. Discord will let you delete messages in channels and direct messages only that are up to two weeks old. Some bots claim to delete all messages, but I am yet to come across a one to prove that.
Telegram’s secret chat servers disallow forwarding messages, are not backed up on Telegram servers, and users can send self-destructing messages, similar to Snapchat. Also, I couldn't take a screenshot inside the secret chat window on Android.
Finally, both Telegram and Discord support 2FA (Two Factor Authentication).
One thing that I failed to understand is Telegram’s need to ask users' to enter their phone numbers at the time of creating an account. Maybe, it is a mechanism to curb spam accounts, but that is open to debate.
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3. Un-Common Features
Both Discord and Telegram support most popular platforms like Android, iOS, Web, Windows, Linux, and macOS.
You can share images and videos using both. However, Telegram goes a step ahead to let you share GIFs, PiP videos, stickers, video messages, and your current location.
You can make voice calls on both, but Discord takes the lead here by allowing videos calls and screen sharing. Discord is widely used by gamers when showcasing their skills, and it works effortlessly without even having to leave the game you are playing at that moment.
Telegram channels are known to be often plagued by spam from the owners and bots. Discord allows for greater control by assigning users roles and incentivizing them for a chance to become a high ranking member within the server. Members can be appointed for different roles like subscriber, administrator, and moderators to bring sanity to groups that have members in the thousands.
There is a built-in mechanism that allows you to rank comments making it easier to separate noise in the chat rooms.
File transfer is where Discord falls behind. By default, you can only transfer files up to 8MB large which is not much when compared to Telegram’s generous 1.5GB limit. Further, Discord offers a premium plan called Nitro which will increase this limit to 50MB for $4.99/month along with the ability to use a GIF as your avatar and use animated emojis.
Keeping gamers in mind, Discord will let users see what game others are playing and even what music they are listening to on Spotify. Discord also pulls your friends and other contacts from Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and Steam.
Discord allows its members to use syntax highlighting and markdown while composing text messages.
Telegram vs. Discord
If you are an employer running a startup or a company and security, privacy, and data are the words on your mind, then I would recommend Telegram. It's more secure of the two and is completely free.
If you are a gamer or a casual user looking for a fun and non-formal atmosphere along with an intuitive, then I would suggest Discord.
Next up: Both Telegram and WhatsApp allow their users to send broadcast messages. Click on the link below to find out how they differ.