Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) has announced that they have authorized the use of the social media app Telegram in their upcoming Sabbatical Officer elections.
TCDSU has given candidates permission to campaign on Telegram, whereas previously candidates could only campaign on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.
In a statement to Trinity News this afternoon, the union explained: “Telegram is a messaging and social media platform with over 500 million downloads. It provides end to end encryption as well as being completely open source.”
According to the union, Telegram supports a “channels feature”, which is a form of one-way messaging where admins are able to post messages, but other users are not.
These channels can be “publicly available” with an alias and a permanent URL, allowing anyone to join.
“Users who join a channel can see the entire post history, the statement explained. “Users can join and leave channels at any time.”
Users can mute a channel, where a user will receive posts, but they will not be notified.
According to schedule three of the TCDSU Constitution, social media accounts are “limited to the same social platforms that are used by TCDSU unless an exemption is given by the Electoral Commission (EC)”.
“This is to ensure transparency. An exemption will be given to all candidates if this is the case,” the constitution outlines.
Explaining the introduction of Telegram as a platform for campaigning, the statement signed by the Chair of the EC Yannick Gloster and Education Officer Megan O’Connor, stated: “For the purpose of the campaign, Candidates will be permitted by the EC to create a Telegram channel, if they wish, as an additional platform for campaigning.”
“As there are undoubtedly many students who use the platform, the EC would like to ensure that in this period of online elections, that we are able to reach as many students as possible on the platforms that they may use.”
They continued: “As with any other platform, the EC must be added as an admin to the channel. The settings must also be set so that the posts are signed with the username of the admin who posted them to ensure transparency.”
“Telegram may not be used for any other sort of campaigning such as group chats,” they clarified.