WhatsApp Hits $2 Bn Users Mark Globally

Ruben Fields
February 13, 2020

Facebook passed 2 billion monthly users in 2017, but its growth has since slowed amid privacy scandals and increasing scrutiny from officials around the world. The company says that this is the main reason why people choose WhatsApp instead of other messaging apps.

There are other governments like India (its largest market with about 400 million users) and the U.S. who are calling for the messaging app to drop the encryption citing terrorism and crimes like sex trafficking that can be propagated through encrypted platforms.

WhatsApp's popularity has grown despite recent controversies on how the app was used to exploit smartphone vulnerabilities and snoop on certain users across the world, including the world's richest man Jeff Bezos. This milestone has made the popular messaging service the second platform to have reached that number of users.

Messaging app WhatsApp said on Wednesday it now has over 2 billion users worldwide, making it the largest social media platform after Facebook, its parent company.

"Private conversations that once were only possible face-to-face can now take place across great distances through instant chats and video calling", a WhatsApp blog post said. We will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe.

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"We know that the more we connect, the more we have to protect. As we conduct more of our lives online, protecting our conversations is more important than ever", the post said, reiterating how even Whatsapp could not read messages sent on the platform.

The privacy and protection of WhatsApp end to end encryption makes it attractive as it prevents unauthorised persons from reading users messages.

The heads of Facebook's WhatsApp and Messenger, Will Cathcart and Stan Chudnovsky, responded in a letter to officials from the three countries that allowing this kind of "backdoor" access "would be a gift to criminals, hackers and repressive regimes" while leaving users vulnerable.

"Strong encryption is a necessity in modern life", the company wrote. The companies would also have to preserve their records for at least 180 days to aid government investigators, establish a brick-and-mortar operation within India and appoint both a grievance officer to deal with user complaints and a government liaison.

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