There is an app for everything. In fact, one of the most popular types of apps is for communication. Think of all the social media apps that you probably have on your phone. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Tinder, Bumble, Kik, and WhatsApp. But, who owns WhatsApp, and what is the long and controversial history behind it? Should you use it? Let’s get started!
WhatsApp: The Early Years
WhatsApp was created by two former Yahoo employees by the names of Brian Acton and Jan Koum. However, neither planned on making the app for communication and messaging.
It was in January 2009 that Koum had bought an iPhone. Him and Acton saw the power of the iPhone and knew that it was going to be a massive industry’s especially for apps. It was Koum who founded the idea to create an app that gave you information about the people in your contact list. The app would have the ability to know the status of everyone’s phones such as where they were and their battery percentage.
February 24, 2009 was when WhatsApp was incorporated. However, it kept crashing. Koum considered quitting, but Acton said to give it more time. Months later, Koum had added the ability to know when a user’s status had changed. This caused the users to ping each other with little messages. From there, it became a messaging service by accident. WhatsApp 2.0 came out in August of the same year and the number skyrocketed from just a handful of friends to a quarter million users.
Acton would later join in on WhatsApp and with the financial backing of their friends, WhatsApp was able to be developed more and put on iPhones and BlackBerry. Google would repeatedly ask for acquisition, but was turned down. By 2011, it was one of the top 20 apps on the United States App Store. Then, by 2013, WhatsApp boasted 400 million users every month.
WhatsApp: The Later Years
In February 2014, Facebook bought the company for $19 billion, the largest buy Facebook had to date. By 2015, WhatsApp doubled in numbers and boasted 800 million users. Then, in February 2016, WhatsApp made it to 1 billion users.
Acton would leave in September 2017. He admitted that he left over Facebook. Around this time back in March, the Cambridge Analytica scandal was breaking out. He left behind $850 million as he was in disagreement with how the company should be handled. Acton wanted a useful, ad-free app that helped people that was private for people, something that Facebook disagreed on.
Later on in 2018, WhatsApp created WhatsApp Business for small business owners. That very same year, Koum announced he was leaving due to concerns about Facebook and their control over the app.
So who owns WhatsApp now? The app became instrumental for people around the world in 2020. This was because of the unforeseen coronavirus pandemic that spread across the world. The app assisted in keeping people up-to-date about the pandemic.
In October they made a feature that allowed users to block anyone for the options of:
- 8 hours
- 1 Week
The app continues to make new features such as the file upload limit being raised to having integration with an Indian app called JioMart and can be used for only people in India.
Who Owns WhatsApp
To this day, WhatsApp is still under control of Facebook, or Meta Platforms as it is called these days. Meta Platforms took the app and made it into something that the original creators did not want, forcing them to go their separate ways.
WhatsApp has long been a controversial app, especially under Meta Platforms. Below are just some of the many issues that have arisen from the app.
- WhatsApp imposes limits in response to misinformation. It has been active since 2018. This has helped limit the spread of misinformation about Covid-19.
Security and Privacy
- WhatsApp was criticized for not having any encryption. Though, this was added in 2012. As of now, the app makes use of outside contractors and AI systems to keep an eye on messages and images.
- A vulnerability was found where someone could install spyware by just making a call that was not required to be answered.
- WhatsApp was reported to have ISIS users who used the app to plot the 2015 attacks in Paris, France. ISIS also uses it for human trafficking.
- WhatsApp is home to many scams that spread viruses everywhere. At least 1.5 million people have lost money from clicking on scams.
Several countries have banned the app for a variety of reasons. These countries include:
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
WhatsApp’s Journey and Future Outlook
WhatsApp’s rise to prominence is an extraordinary tale that began with a unique vision and unforeseen circumstances. The app’s founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, created a messaging platform inadvertently, which went on to revolutionize the way we communicate. However, the acquisition by Facebook and subsequent departures of Acton and Koum marked significant turning points in WhatsApp’s history.
Despite controversies, WhatsApp continues to be a dominant player in the messaging landscape, boasting an extensive user base and offering new features to enhance user experience. While concerns over security, privacy, and misinformation persist, WhatsApp remains a vital tool for communication and connectivity, especially during times of crisis.
As the future unfolds, only time will tell how WhatsApp will evolve under the ownership of Meta Platforms and how it will address the challenges that lie ahead. One thing is certain: WhatsApp’s journey is far from over, and its impact on the world of communication will continue to shape the digital landscape.
Q: Who owns WhatsApp currently? A: WhatsApp is currently owned by Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook.
Q: When was WhatsApp founded? A: WhatsApp was incorporated on February 24, 2009.
Q: How many users does WhatsApp have? A: WhatsApp reached the milestone of 1 billion users in February 2016.
Q: What are some of the controversies surrounding WhatsApp? A: WhatsApp has faced controversies related to misinformation, security and privacy concerns, association with terrorism and criminal activities, scams and viruses, as well as bans in certain countries.
Q: Is WhatsApp encrypted? A: Yes, WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption in 2012 to enhance user privacy and security.
Q: Which countries have banned WhatsApp? A: Some of the countries that have banned WhatsApp include China, Iran, Turkey, Brazil, Uganda, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Cuba, Switzerland, and Zambia.
Q: What features has WhatsApp introduced recently? A: Recently, WhatsApp introduced a feature allowing users to block individuals for specific durations, as well as integrations with other services like JioMart in India.
Q: Why did Brian Acton leave WhatsApp? A: Brian Acton left WhatsApp due to disagreements with Facebook’s handling of the app and its direction, particularly regarding user privacy and advertising.
Q: How has WhatsApp been used during the COVID-19 pandemic? A: WhatsApp played a crucial role during the COVID-19 pandemic by keeping people updated and connected, serving as a vital communication tool during times of crisis.
Q: What should users be cautious about when using WhatsApp? A: Users should exercise caution regarding the spread of misinformation, be mindful of privacy and security settings, and remain vigilant against scams and fraudulent activities.