On Wednesday, WhatsApp made an update to its monthly active user count for the first time in two years. In a blog post, the encrypted messaging service revealed 2 billion people check in to its platform every month. As such, the app is the second most popular program offered by Facebook behind its eponymous social network.
Also, while the Big Tech giant’s messaging platform is thriving, a planned expansion of its core product has hit an unexpected snag.
WhatsApp’s Impressive Rise
In a press release, WhatsApp touted both its high subscriber count and the reason it’s become so popular.
In 2009, former Yahoo employees Brian Acton and Jan Koum founded the messaging service. Early on, the platform distinguished itself from rivals by encrypting users’ exchanges. After some initial struggles with stability, the application had remarkable success in the Apple and Android ecosystems. By 2013, the service boasted 200 million active users. One year later, Facebook bought the company for a then-record $19 billion.
By February 2018, WhatsApp had 1.5 billion monthly active users.
Notably, WhatsApp has never been a profitable enterprise at any point in its 11-year history. Initially, the firm charged users $1 a year to utilize its services but dropped the fee in 2016. Moreover, Facebook chose to keep the platform ad-free despite earning a reported $20 billion from its sibling subsidiary, Instagram.
Nevertheless, WhatsApp reaffirmed its commitment to robust user protections in its 2 billion user announcement. “Strong encryption is a necessity in modern life. We will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe,” stated the corporation. Moreover, the company pledged to “stop misuse as well as provide controls and ways to report issues — without sacrificing privacy.”
As social media users have shown an increasing interest in data protection, WhatsApp will likely continue to add subscribers at an impressive rate. However, the same may not be true for Facebook’s other offerings.
Facebook Dating European Rollout Delayed
Last September, Facebook deployed a new feature called Dating in the United States. With it, the social network’s users can pursue potential live connections amongst their friends, friends of friends, and strangers. The company positioned the no-swipe app as a way for people to make contact with others who share their interests.
However, Facebook’s dating service offering has run aground in Europe. Initially, the social network intended to expand the feature across the Atlantic on February 13. But the Ireland Data Protection Commission (DPC) raised an issue with the app’s rollout. Because the Big Tech firm’s European segment is based in Dublin, the DPC has the authority to investigate its data handling practices.
On Wednesday, the agency stated the Menlo Park, California-based firm only made it aware of Facebook Dating’s European deployment on February 3. As such, the regulator expressed concern that the service had not been transparent regarding its new product’s privacy functions. On Monday, the DPC inspected the offices of Facebook Ireland and gathered documentation related to its dating service.
In light of the new scrutiny, Facebook has postponed the European launch of its new app. Ideally, the social networking company will take a more forthright approach in rescheduling Dating’s expansion. After all, Europeans shouldn’t be denied the opportunity to benefit from Mark Zuckerberg’s matchmaking skills.