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Telegram, the encrypted chat app that’s been known as the communication tool of choice for peaceful protestors and jihadists alike, mysteriously disappeared from the iOS app store on Wednesday. According to its founder, Apple claims that the removal was due to “inappropriate content” being made available to users.

The people at Telegram were celebrating the launch of the recoded Telegram X app for Android yesterday, when the sudden removal of its flagship product on Apple’s store left users confused. The app’s founder and CEO Pavel Durov responded to one user on Twitter who asked why it was missing from the app store. “We were alerted by Apple that inappropriate content was made available to our users and both apps were taken off the App Store,” he wrote. “Once we have protections in place we expect the apps to be back on the App Store.”

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As TechCrunch points out, Apple’s guidelines for app developers include an acknowledgment of the inherent difficulties involved when an app primarily relies on user-generated content. For those types of platforms, there a prescribed set of protections that developers need to have in place. They include:

•A method for filtering objectionable material from being posted to the app
•A mechanism to report offensive content and timely responses to concerns
•The ability to block abusive users from the service
•Published contact information so users can easily reach you

But even if an app checks all of those boxes, Apple reserves the right to remove any app that ends up “being used primarily for pornographic content, objectification of real people (e.g. “hot-or-not” voting), making physical threats, or bullying.”

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Telegram, like most lightly moderated platforms, definitely has porn. And some have speculated that the removal could be related to the use of the app by terrorists as a possible cause for the removal. Apple’s guidelines do prohibit “upsetting or offensive content,” that encourages “illegal or reckless use of weapons and dangerous objects.” But there could be a more innocuous explanation: cryptocurrency scams.

Another part of Apple’s guidelines stipulates that the app shouldn’t be used to “make unverifiable product claims.” On Tuesday, Wired reported that Telegram has become a bit of a haven for enthusiasts in the initial coin offering (ICO) sphere of the cryptocurrency world, and that one recent scam, Prodeum, had a prominent trading channel on the app. That channel disappeared this week, along with every part of the company’s web presence save for the word “penis” typed on the ICO’s primary website. It’s not unreasonable to believe that Apple could be paying attention to cryptocurrency scams in its apps following Facebook’s announcement that it’s banning ads related to the crypto-sphere due to their being “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”

Telegram itself exists in part because of cryptocurrency. Durov, Telegram’s founder, told Bloomberg last December that he’s made a small fortune in bitcoin, on top of the millions he made from the sale of his Russia-based tech company VKontakte. He said that he will never sell the company, even if he’s offered $20 billion. And earlier this month, Telegram announced that it was planning its own $1.2 billion ICO.

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Durov is an eccentric figure who dresses like a self-absorbed magician, and before he fell out with the government, he was Russia’s answer to Mark Zuckerberg. But Durov’s ideology is closer to someone like Julian Assange, and he takes a very libertarian view toward governments and how his platform is used.

His clash with the Russian government reached its breaking point when he refused to turn over data relating to Ukranian protestors. Most recently, Telegram was in the spotlight due to its widespread use by protestors in Iran, and that governments subsequent suspension of the service in its country. The US government also reportedly takes issue with the app that counts 180 million users worldwide. In June of last year, he claimed US officials tried to bribe him and his developers to install a backdoor in the app.

Durov seems to believe that whatever the issue with Apple is, it will be solved shortly. For Apple, the optics of taking down an app that’s used by people fighting authoritarian regimes around the world aren’t great considering it’s been under fire for placating the whims of Chinese censors in recent months. We’ve reached out to Apple to ask why Telegram was removed and to ask for further details. We’ll update this post when we find out.

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Update, 12pm: Telegram is back in the iOS app store, according to Durov, who threw in some braggy stats for good measure.

[9 to 5 Mac, Twitter]

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