If you reside within the US, likelihood is you’ve a minimum of heard of WhatsApp, the messaging app that Meta acquired in 2014.
But if you happen to dwell in different elements 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 exterior of New Delhi.
Khera is one in every of hundreds of thousands of Indians who run companies primarily by WhatsApp. And it’s not simply companies: Roughly 400 million folks in India use WhatsApp to communicate with family abroad, ship cash, entry important medical info, and extra.
WhatsApp’s easy design helped make it successful internationally, particularly in international locations the place most individuals don’t have iPhones to make use of iMessage, or inexpensive cellphone plans to ship SMS messages. When Meta purchased WhatsApp eight years in the past in a report $19 billion money and inventory deal, it was thought of a dangerous guess. Today, although it doesn’t contribute a lot to Meta’s backside line, WhatsApp is arguably the corporate’s most important worldwide product.
At the identical time, WhatsApp has struggled with a number of the similar misinformation issues which have plagued Facebook. But not like Facebook, WhatsApp makes use of personal, encrypted communication software program that makes it more durable for the corporate to reasonable content material. That drawback is particularly acute in India, the place baseless rumors unfold on the app have led to grave consequences. Recently, 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 folks’s messages when wanted. Will Meta proceed to maintain WhatsApp messages personal at the same time as strain ramps up?
“You have to consider what it means to supply a service the place folks talk their most personal ideas, most personal messages, most personal calls to the folks they care about probably the most all around the globe,” 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 Network’s award-winning narrative podcast sequence 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 Facebook’s journey to changing into Meta, that includes interviews with present and former executives.