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Search for Telegram groups based on location

On June 23, 2019, the Russian messaging service Telegram announced on its website that they had made "exchanging contact information" easier. Since this update, it should be possible for you as an OSINT researcher to search for groups and users on Telegram based on their location. In this short blog post we explain how you can do that.

Telegram update 23-06-2019

Since the Telegram update in June this year, it is possible to search for users and groups based on their location. That means that if we find ourselves in one location, we get suggestions from users and groups in the same location in our search results. So we can simply check which users and groups are active in which region. Are we going to travel all over the country to map users and groups of everything to locations? Of course not, because that would take way too much time. We solve this by spoofing our location. By this we actually mean that we manually set our location to a different location.

What do we need for this?

To be able to search users and groups on Telegram based on their location, we need a number of things. That sounds very exciting, but actually this is only a (virtual) phone, the mobile application from Telegram and an account on Telegram. In the example below we use a so-called "Android emulator", a kind of virtual phone that works the same as a normal phone. If you want to use a virtual phone, you can use the NoxPlayer, Bluestacks or Genymotion for this. Which you choose depends on your own preferences. For example, you can create Genymotion within the virtual machine Virtual Box, but you can, for example, find the NoxPlayer working better or faster. Of course you can also use a (prepaid) telephone.
 

Get started on Telegram

Okay, we have a telephone, now what? First we download the mobile application from Telegram. You do that via an Android Emulator (with a fake Gmail account) via the Google Playstore, on a normal phone this depends on the device you use. In this example we continue with the Android Emulator NoxPlayer, so if you use a different device, the steps may differ slightly.
 

Step 1: Open the (virtual) device;

Step 2: Open the Google Playstore;

Step 3: Download Telegram. If all is well, your mobile phone environment will look like the image below.

Android Emulator

Step 4: click on the three dots on the left side and select "V-loc";

V-loc

Step 5: choose a virtual location. In our example we have chosen the location "Rotterdam" in the Netherlands. Click on "Move here" in the bottom right to save the location.

Note: this does not work on every "normal" mobile phone. If you do not use an Android emulator but a normal phone, you can download a mobile application to spoof the location. Also pay attention when downloading the mobile application whether you are not downloading malware.
 

Virtuele locatie

Step 6: Open Telegram;

Telegram geopend

Step 7: click on the three stripes on the left side and select "Contacts";

               Telegram contacts

Step 8: click on "Add people Nearby" en see the groups results based on your location.

               Telegram - Add people nearbyTelegram - Groups nearby

More information?

Do you want to know more about how you can effectively search for information on Telegram? Then contact us or register for one of our OSINT training courses. Do you also have tips or suggestions for this article? Please let us know!

 

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