When you stay within the US, likelihood is you’ve not less than heard of WhatsApp, the messaging app that Meta acquired in 2014.
However in case you stay in different components of the world, like India, the service is extra than simply an app for speaking with family and friends.
“WhatsApp in India is a lifestyle,” stated Rajeev Khera, founding father of meals tech enterprise Chakki Peesing, which operates outdoors of New Delhi.
Khera is one in every of tens of millions of Indians who run companies primarily by way of WhatsApp. And it’s not simply companies: Roughly 400 million individuals in India use WhatsApp to be in contact with family abroad, ship cash, entry important medical data, and extra.
WhatsApp’s easy design helped make it successful internationally, particularly in nations the place most individuals don’t have iPhones to make use of iMessage, or reasonably priced cellphone plans to ship SMS messages. When Meta purchased WhatsApp eight years in the past in a file $19 billion money and inventory deal, it was thought of a dangerous wager. As we speak, despite the fact that it doesn’t contribute a lot to Meta’s backside line, WhatsApp is arguably the corporate’s most important worldwide product.
On the identical time, WhatsApp has struggled with a few of the identical misinformation issues which have plagued Fb. However in contrast to Fb, WhatsApp makes use of non-public, encrypted communication software program that makes it more durable for the corporate to reasonable content material. That downside is particularly acute in India, the place baseless rumors unfold on the app have led to grave consequences. Not too long ago, the Indian authorities has threatened to crack down on one in every of WhatsApp’s core values — consumer privateness — with regulators demanding a approach for authorities to entry individuals’s messages when wanted. Will Meta proceed to maintain WhatsApp messages non-public at the same time as stress ramps up?
“You must take into consideration what it means to supply a service the place individuals talk their most non-public ideas, most non-public messages, most non-public calls to the individuals they care about probably the most all all over the world,” stated Will Cathcart, the present head of WhatsApp.
We look at how WhatsApp grew to become so highly effective, and the implications of that energy for the remainder of Meta’s apps, in our sixth episode of the brand new season of Land of the Giants, the Vox Media Podcast Community’s award-winning narrative podcast collection about probably the most influential tech corporations of our time. This season, Recode and The Verge have teamed up over the course of seven episodes to inform the story of Fb’s journey to turning into Meta, that includes interviews with present and former executives.