WhatsApp follows Facebook and YouTube to over 2 billion monthly users

WhatsApp has joined the 2 billion users club. The Facebook-owned messaging company today announced that the 11-year-old app now hosts over 2 billion monthly users — up from 1.5 billion in 2017 and about 500 million short of Facebook’s 2.5 billion user base. After Facebook and YouTube, WhatsApp is the third app worldwide to have crossed 2 billion users.

“There are so many significant and special moments that take place over WhatsApp and we are humbled and honored to reach this milestone. 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,” WhatsApp wrote in a blog post.

WhatsApp’s CEO Will Cathcart took the opportunity to reiterate the messaging service’s security commitments. “For all of human history, people have been able to communicate privately with each other and we don’t think that should go away in a modern society,” Cathcart added in an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Cathcart also addressed WhatsApp’s constant struggles with governments across the globe that have hounded the messaging giant to integrate backdoors and called agreeing to do so “an inherently unacceptable risk.”

Incidentally, a few weeks ago, rival messaging app Telegram’s founder, Pavel Durov, accused WhatsApp of deliberately planting backdoors for complying with local regulations and governments. “WhatsApp uses the words ‘end-to-end encryption’ as some magic incantation that alone is supposed to automatically make all communications secure. However, this technology is not a silver bullet that can guarantee you absolute privacy by itself,” Durov said.

While he didn’t discuss the company’s revenue plans, Cathcart said making WhatsApp interoperable with the rest of Facebook’s (unencrypted) messaging platform will be “technically challenging”.

About a month ago, it was reported that Facebook has shelved its plan to bring ads to WhatsApp Status. Therefore, how the social media giant plans to cash in on its hefty $22 billion investment continues to hang in the balance. However, Facebook has likely pivoted its monetization attention to WhatsApp Business that will potentially be more lucrative and scalable than ads. That’s primarily because ad returns in WhatsApp’s most active regions like India and Brazil are not as significant as, say, the U.S. or Canada.

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