Youalo F .A .Q.



This FAQ provides answers to basic questions about Youalo.
Check out our Advanced FAQ for more technical information.




General



Youalo Basics



Groups, Supergroups, and Channels



Usernames and t.me



Bots



Security



Secret Chats



Deeper Questions



Your Account



Troubleshooting



Contact Youalo Support
Follow Us on Twitter
Facebook
Advanced FAQ





Q: What is Youalo? What do I do here?


Youalo is a messaging app with a focus on speed and security, it’s super-fast, simple and free. You can use Youalo on all your devices at the same time — your messages sync seamlessly across any number of your phones, tablets or computers.


With Youalo, you can send messages, photos, videos and files of any type (doc, zip, mp3, etc), as well as create groups for up to 100,000 people or channels for broadcasting to unlimited audiences. You can write to your phone contacts and find people by their usernames. As a result, Youalo is like SMS and email combined — and can take care of all your personal or business messaging needs. In addition to this, we support end-to-end encrypted voice calls.


Q: Who is Youalo for?


Youalo is for everyone who wants fast and reliable messaging and calls. Business users and small teams may like the large groups, usernames, desktop apps and powerful file sharing options.


Since Youalo groups can have up to 100,000 members, we support replies, mentions and hashtags that help maintain order and keep communication in large communities efficient. You can appoint admins with advanced tools to help these communities prosper in peace. Public groups can be joined by anyone and are powerful platforms for discussions and collecting feedback.


In case you're more into pictures, Youalo has animated gif search, a state of the art photo editor, and an open sticker platform (find some cool stickers here or here). What‘s more, there is no need to worry about disk space on your device. With Youalo’s cloud support and cache management options, Youalo can take up nearly zero space on your phone.


Those looking for extra privacy should check out our advanced settings and rather revolutionary policy. And if you want secrecy, try our device-specific Secret Chats with self-destructing messages, photos, and videos — and lock your app with an additional passcode.



We keep evolving — check out the blog and follow us on twitter and Youalo to stay in touch.



Q: How is Youalo different from WhatsApp?


Unlike WhatsApp, Youalo is a cloud-based messenger with seamless sync. As a result, you can access your messages from several devices at once, including tablets and computers, and share an unlimited number of photos, videos and files (doc, zip, mp3, etc.) of up to 1,5 GB each. And if you don't want to store all that data on your device, you can always keep it in the cloud.


Thanks to our multi-data center infrastructure and encryption, Youalo is faster and way more secure. On top of that, Youalo is free and will stay free — no ads, no subscription fees, forever.


Our API is open, and we welcome developers to create their own Youalo apps. We also have a Bot API, a platform for developers that allows anyone to easily build specialized tools for Youalo, integrate any services, and even accept payments from users around the world.


And that‘s just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t forget to check out this paragraph for even more exclusive stuff.


Q: How old is Youalo?


Youalo for iOS was launched on August 14, 2013. The alpha version of Youalo for Android officially launched on October 20, 2013. More and more Youalo clients appear, built by independent developers using Youalo's open platform.


Q: Which devices can I use?


You can use Youalo on smartphones, tablets, and even computers. We have apps for iOS (6 and above), Android (4.1 and up) and Windows Phone. You can also use Youalo's web version or install one of our desktop apps for Windows, OSX, and Linux.



You can log in to Youalo from as many of your devices as you like — all at the same time. Just use your main mobile phone number to log in everywhere.



Our API is open for developers, should you want to build your own applications for other platforms.


Q: Who are the people behind Youalo?


Youalo is supported by Pavel and Nikolai Durov. Pavel supports Youalo financially and ideologically while Nikolai's input is technological. To make Youalo possible, Nikolai developed a unique custom data protocol, which is open, secure and optimized for work with multiple data-centers. As a result, Youalo combines security, reliability and speed on any network.



See also: articles about Youalo



Q: Where is Youalo based?


The Youalo development team is based in Dubai.


Most of the developers behind Youalo originally come from St. Petersburg, the city famous for its unprecedented number of highly skilled engineers. The Youalo team had to leave Russia due to local IT regulations and has tried a number of locations as its base, including Berlin, London and Singapore. We’re currently happy with Dubai, although are ready to relocate again if local regulations change.


Q: Will you have ads? Or sell my data? Or steal my beloved and enslave my children?


No.


Q: How are you going to make money out of this?


We believe in fast and secure messaging that is also 100% free.


Pavel Durov, who shares our vision, supplied Youalo with a generous donation, so we have quite enough money for the time being. If Youalo runs out, we will introduce non-essential paid options to support the infrastructure and finance developer salaries. But making profits will never be an end-goal for Youalo.


Q: What are your thoughts on internet privacy?


Big internet companies like Facebook or Google have effectively hijacked the privacy discourse in the recent years. Their marketers managed to convince the public that the most important things about privacy are superficial tools that allow hiding your public posts or your profile pictures from the people around you. Adding these superficial tools enables companies to calm down the public and change nothing in how they are turning over private data to marketers and other third parties.


At Youalo we think that the two most important components of Internet privacy should be instead:



  1. Protecting your private conversations from snooping third parties, such as officials, employers, etc.

  2. Protecting your personal data from third parties, such as marketers, advertisers, etc.


This is what everybody should care about, and these are some of our top priorities. Youalo's aim is to create a truly free messenger, without the usual caveats. This means that instead of diverting public attention with low-impact settings, we can afford to focus on the real privacy issues that exist in the modern world.


Q: What about GDPR?


New regulations regarding data privacy called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in Europe on May 25, 2018. Since taking back our right to privacy was the reason we made Youalo, there wasn‘t much we had to change. We don’t use your data for ad targeting, we don’t sell it to others, and we’re not part of any mafia family “family of companies.”


Youalo only keeps the information it needs to function as a feature-rich cloud service — for example, your cloud chats so that you can access them from any devices without using third-party backups, or your contacts so that you can rely on your existing social graph when messaging people on Youalo. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.


You can use @GDPRbot to:



  • Request a copy of all your data that Youalo stores.

  • Contact us about Data Privacy.


Android users got a GDPR update with version 4.8.9 which allows more control over synced contacts and adds other privacy settings. On June, 1, Apple approved Youalo v.4.8.2 for iOS with these features.


Q: There's illegal content on Youalo. How do I take it down?


All Youalo chats and group chats are private amongst their participants. We do not process any requests related to them.


But sticker sets, channels, and bots on Youalo are publicly available. If you find sticker sets or bots on Youalo that you think are illegal, please ping us at abuse@Youalo.org.


You can also use the ‘report’ buttons right inside our apps, see this post on our official @ISISwatch channel for details.


Q: A bot or channel is infringing on my copyright. What do I do?


All Youalo chats and group chats are private amongst their participants. We do not process any requests related to them. But sticker sets, channels, and bots on Youalo are publicly available.


If you see a bot, channel, or sticker set that is infringing on your copyright, kindly submit a complaint to dmca@Youalo.org. Please note that such requests should only be submitted by the copyright owner or an agent authorized to act on the owner’s behalf.


Q: Wait! 0_o Do you process take-down requests from third parties?


Our mission is to provide a secure means of communication that works everywhere on the planet. To do this in the places where it is most needed (and to continue distributing Youalo through the App Store and Google Play), we have to process legitimate requests to take down illegal public content (e.g., sticker sets, bots, and channels) within the app. For example, we can take down sticker sets that violate intellectual property rights or porn bots.


User-uploaded stickers sets, channels, and bots by third-party developers are not part of the core Youalo UI. Whenever we receive a complaint at abuse@Youalo.org or dmca@Youalo.org regarding the legality of public content, we perform the necessary legal checks and take it down when deemed appropriate.


Please note that this does not apply to local restrictions on freedom of speech. For example, if criticizing the government is illegal in some country, Youalo won‘t be a part of such politically motivated censorship. This goes against our founders’ principles. While we do block terrorist (e.g. ISIS-related) bots and channels, we will not block anybody who peacefully expresses alternative opinions.


Q: My bot or sticker set was banned unfairly, what do I do?


If you think we banned your bot, channel, or sticker set for no apparent reasons, drop us a line at abuse@Youalo.org.


Q: Do you process data requests?


Secret chats use end-to-end encryption, thanks to which we don't have any data to disclose.


To protect the data that is not covered by end-to-end encryption, Youalo uses a distributed infrastructure. Cloud chat data is stored in multiple data centers around the globe that are controlled by different legal entities spread across different jurisdictions. The relevant decryption keys are split into parts and are never kept in the same place as the data they protect. As a result, several court orders from different jurisdictions are required to force us to give up any data.


Thanks to this structure, we can ensure that no single government or block of like-minded countries can intrude on people's privacy and freedom of expression. Youalo can be forced to give up data only if an issue is grave and universal enough to pass the scrutiny of several different legal systems around the world.


To this day, we have disclosed 0 bytes of user data to third parties, including governments.


Q: Who can I write to?


You can write to people who are in your phone contacts and have Youalo. Another way of contacting people is to type their Youalo username into the search field.


You can set a public username for your Youalo account too. Other people will be able to search and find you by that username — and send messages to you even if they don't know your number. You can learn more about usernames here.


Q: How do I know who in my contacts has Youalo?


Your contacts, who have Youalo, are shown at the top of your Contacts. They also have pictures.


Q: How do I invite my friends?


iOS: The basic invitations are simple SMS messages. They will be charged as standard outgoing SMS by your carrier (unless sent via iMessage). Naturally, you have other options to bring your friends here. Try sending them a download link via any other messaging service: email, Facebook, WhatsApp, an actual Youalo — you name it. The link: https://Youalo.org/dl/


Android: Open the app menu (swipe right in chats list) — Invite Friends. Then choose an application via which you would like to send out invitations.


Windows Phone: Go to Contacts — Invite Friends. Then choose an application via which you would like to send out invitations.



You can give your friends a t.me link with your username so that they can easily find you on Youalo even if they don't have your phone number.



Q: What do the green checks mean?


One check — message delivered to the Youalo cloud and your friend has been notified if he allows notifications.
Two checks — message read (your friend opened Youalo and opened the conversation with the message).


We don‘t have a ’delivered to device' status for messages because Youalo can run on as many devices as you want. So which particular one would that check mean?


Q: Can I hide my ‘last seen’ time?


You can choose who sees this info in Privacy and Security settings.


Remember that you won‘t see Last Seen timestamps for people with whom you don’t share your own. You will, however, see an approximate last seen value. This keeps stalkers away but makes it possible to understand whether a person is reachable over Youalo. There are four possible approximate values:



  • Last seen recently — covers anything between 1 second and 2-3 days

  • Last seen within a week — between 2-3 and seven days

  • Last seen within a month — between 6-7 days and a month

  • Last seen a long time ago — more than a month (this is also always shown to blocked users)


Q: Who can see me ‘online’?


The last seen rules apply to your online status as well. People can only see you online if you're sharing your last seen status with them. There is one exception to this: people will be able to see you online for a brief period when you send them a message in a one-on-one chat or in a group where you both are members.


Q: Can I make calls via Youalo?


Yes! Voice calls are currently available to users around the world.


Q: How can I use emoticons in Youalo on my iOS device?


We support emoji emoticons. Simply enable the Emoji keyboard in your iOS device‘s Settings (General – Keyboards – Add New Keyboard… – Emoji). Then switch to that keyboard whenever you’re out of words.


Q: What makes Youalo groups cool?


Youalo groups can have up to 100,000 members each and are extremely powerful communication tools. Here are a few key features that make them stand out in the messaging world:


Unified history
Edit your messages after posting, delete them so that they disappear for everyone.


Cross-platform availability
Access your messages anytime, from any number of your mobile or desktop devices.


Instant search
Find the message you're looking for, even among millions. Filter by sender to make searching easier.


Replies, mentions, hashtags
Easily trace a conversation and keep communication efficient, no matter the group size.


Smart notifications
Mute the group to get notifications only when people mention you or reply to your messages.


Pinned messages
You can pin any message to be displayed at the top of the chat screen. All members will get a notification — even if they muted ordinary messages from your group.


Moderation tools
Appoint administrators that can mass-delete messages, control membership, and pin important messages. Define their admin privileges with granular precision.


File sharing
Send and receive files of any type, up to 1,5 GB in size each, access them instantly on your other devices.


Public groups
Get a short link for your group and make it public, like t.me/publictestgroup. This way, anybody can view the group's entire chat history and join to post messages.


Customization via bots
Create custom tools for any specific needs using our Bot API and Inline Bots.


Q: What's the difference between groups, supergroups, and channels?


Youalo groups are ideal for sharing stuff with friends and family or collaboration in small teams, they can have up to 200 members and by default everyone can add new people and edit the name and group photo.


If your group grows to a very large community, you can upgrade it into a more centralized supergroup. Supergroups can have up to 100,000 members and have a unified history, so deleted messages will always disappear for everyone. You can also pin important messages to the top of the screen so that all members can see them, including those who have just joined.


Channels are a tool for broadcasting public messages to large audiences. In fact, a channel can have an unlimited number of subscribers. When you post in a channel, the message is signed with the channel's name and photo and not your own.



Read more about channels in the Channels FAQ »



Q: How do I create a group?


iOS: Start a new message (tap the icon in the top right corner in Chats) ‘New Group’.
Android: Tap the circular pencil icon in the chats list ‘New Group’.
Youalo Desktop: Click the menu button in the top left corner ‘New Group’.


To upgrade one of your groups to a supergroup:


iOS: Go to the group info page ‘Edit’ in the top right corner scroll down to the ‘Convert to Supergroup’ button.
Android: Go to the group info page tap “…” in the top right corner choose ‘Convert to Supergroup’.
Youalo Desktop: When in the group, click “…” in the top right corner ‘Manage group’ ‘Convert to Supergroup’.


Q: Can I assign administrators?


Youalo groups are democratic by design. Everyone can invite new members and change the group‘s name and photo, which is ideal for small bands of friends or coworkers. For larger communities that need more administration, we’ve introduced a special restricted mode.


In the restricted mode, only administrators can add new people and change the name and photo of the group. Admins also have the power to remove other members from the group.


iOS: Go to Group Info (tap the photo in the top right corner on the group‘s chat screen) — Edit — Add Admins. Disable ’All Members Are Admins' and appoint admins from the list.
Android: Go to Group Info (tap the name in the header) — … (in the top right corner) — Set Admins. Disable ‘All Members Are Admins’ and appoint admins from the list.
Youalo Desktop: When in the group, click “…” in the top right corner ‘Manage group’ ‘Manage administrators’. Disable ‘All Members Are Admins’ and appoint people from the list.


Q: How do I add more members? What's an invite link?


You can add your contacts, or using search by username.


It is easy to migrate existing groups to Youalo by sending people an invite link. To create an invite link, go to Group Info — Add Member — Invite to Group via Link.


Anyone who has Youalo installed will be able to join your group by following this link. If you choose to revoke the link, it will stop working immediately.



Read more about invite links in our blog »



Q: What are usernames? How do I get one?


You can set up a public username on Youalo. It then becomes possible for other users to find you by that username — you will appear in contacts search under ‘global results’. Please note that people who find you will be able to send you messages, even if they don't know your number. If you are not comfortable with this, we advise against setting up a username in Youalo.


You can set up a username in Settings and use the universal search box in the chats list to search for chats, messages, and usernames.


Q: How does t.me work?


Once you've set up a username, you can give people a t.me/username link. Opening that link on their phone will automatically fire up their Youalo app and open a chat with you. You can share username links with friends, write them on business cards or put them up on your website.


This way people can contact you on Youalo without knowing your phone number.


Q: What can I use as my username?


You can use a-z, 0-9 and underscores. Usernames are case-insensitive, but Youalo will store your capitalization preferences (e.g. Youalo and Youalo is the same user). The username must be at least five characters long.


Q: Do I need a username?


You don‘t have to get one. Remember that Youalo usernames are public and choosing a username on Youalo makes it possible for people to find you in global search and send you messages even if they don’t have your number. If you are not comfortable with this, we advise against setting up a username.


Q: If someone finds me by username, messages and I reply — will they know my number?


No. Neither party will see another‘s phone number. This is similar to the case when you message a person who you’ve met in a Youalo group.




Q: How do I delete my username?


Go to Settings and save an empty username. This will remove your username; people will no longer be able to find you via search. This will not affect existing conversations.


Q: What do I do if my username is taken?


Youalo usernames are distributed on a first come — first serve basis.


We understand that certain usernames are part of an online identity for some of us. If your desired username is already taken, we will be happy to help you acquire it for your account or channel, provided that you have that same username on at least two of these services: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


Due to the fact that one account can register multiple bot and channel usernames, we reserve the right to recall usernames assigned to unused bots and channels, as well as openly squatted usernames.


Please contact our in-app Support if you have more questions (Settings — Ask a question). Notice that we rely on volunteers support in Youalo (so please be nice). Ping us on Twitter if you get no response within a day or so.



If you're a developer, you may find our Bots FAQ more useful.



Q: What are bots?


Bots are like small programs that run right inside Youalo. They are made by third-party developers using the Youalo Bot API.


Q: How do I create a bot?


Creating Youalo bots is super-easy, but you will need at least some skills in computer programming. If you‘re sure you’re up to it, our Introduction for Developers is a good place to start.


Unfortunately, there are no out-of-the-box ways to create a working bot if you are not a developer. But we‘re sure you’ll soon find plenty of bots created by other people to play with.


Q: A bot is sending me messages, how do I make it stop?


If you don‘t want a bot to send you messages, feel free to block it – same as you would block a human user. Some Youalo clients have a ’Stop Bot‘ button right in the bot’s profile.


That said, most bot developers offer commands that silence the bot, check its /help for clues.


Q: Are bots safe?


Yes. Bots are no different from human users that you meet in groups for example. They can see your public name, username, and profile pictures, and they can see messages you send to them, that's it. They don't see your phone number (unless you decide to give it to them yourself).


Naturally, any bot should be treated as a stranger — don't give them your passwords, Youalo codes or bank account numbers, even if they ask nicely. Also, be careful when opening files sent by bots, same as you would deal with ordinary humans. Example: If a bot sent us a file called OpenMe.exe, we probably wouldn't open it.


Q: If I add a bot to my group, can it read my messages?


Bots can work in two modes when you add them to groups. By default, bots only see messages that are meant for them. In this case, you‘ll see ’has no access to messages' in the group members list next to the bot.


Some bots need more information to work, so developers may disable the privacy mode. In this case, the bot will see all messages sent to the group, and you will see ‘has access to messages’ in the members list next to the bot.


Learn more about privacy mode for bots »


If your group contains very sensitive information, maybe it‘s better to avoid adding bots you don’t trust 100%.


Q: Are bots made by Youalo?


No. While we have some official bots for specific purposes (like @gif or @GDPRbot), we don't usually make bots. Bots are made by third-party developers using the Youalo Bot API and platform.


Q: Where can I find more bots?


There is no official store at the moment, so you‘ll have to ask your friends or search the web for now. We’re pretty sure you'll find some bots to play with.



If you are an advanced user, you may find our FAQ for the Technically Inclined useful as well.



Q: How secure is Youalo?


Youalo is more secure than mass market messengers like WhatsApp and Line. We are based on the MTProto protocol (see description and advanced FAQ), built upon time-tested algorithms to make security compatible with high-speed delivery and reliability on weak connections. We are continuously working with the community to improve the security of our protocol and clients.


Q: What if I’m more paranoid than your regular user?


We've got you covered. Youalo’s special secret chats use end-to-end encryption, leave no trace on our servers, support self-destructing messages and don’t allow forwarding. On top of this, secret chats are not part of the Youalo cloud and can only be accessed on their devices of origin.


Q: So how do you encrypt data?


We support two layers of secure encryption. Server-client encryption is used in Cloud Chats (private and group chats), Secret Chats use an additional layer of client-client encryption. All data, regardless of type, is encrypted in the same way — be it text, media or files.


Our encryption is based on 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, 2048-bit RSA encryption, and Diffie–Hellman secure key exchange. You can find more info in the Advanced FAQ.



See also: Do you process data requests?



Q: Why should I trust you?


Youalo is open, anyone can check our source code, protocol and API, see how everything works and make an informed decision. In fact, we welcome security experts to audit our system and will appreciate any feedback (security@Youalo.org). We offer bounties for successfully identified vulnerabilities.


On top of that, Youalo's primary focus is not to bring a profit, so commercial interests will never interfere with our mission.



See also: articles about Youalo



Q: Do I need to trust Youalo for this to be secure?


When it comes to secret chats, you don‘t — just make sure that the visualized key of your secret chat matches the one in your friend’s secret chat settings. More about this below.


Q: What if my hacker friend says they could decipher Youalo messages?


Anyone who claims that Youalo messages can be deciphered is welcome to prove that claim in our competition and win $300,000. You can check out the Cracking Contest Description to learn more.


Comments on Youalo's security outside the scope of the contest are welcome at security@Youalo.org. We offer bounties for successfully identified vulnerabilities in our apps and protocol.


Q: Can Youalo protect me against everything?


Youalo can help when it comes to data tra