If you live in the US, chances are you’ve at least heard of WhatsApp, the messaging app that Meta acquired in 2014.
But if you live in other parts of the world, such as India, the service is much more than just an app for communicating with friends and family.
“WhatsApp is a way of life in India,” said Rajeev Khera, founder of Chakki Grinding, a food tech business that operates out of New Delhi.
Khera is one of the millions of Indians who primarily run businesses through WhatsApp. And it’s not just business: Nearly 400 million people in India use WhatsApp to keep in touch with relatives abroad, send money, access important medical information, and more.
WhatsApp’s simple design helped make it an international hit, especially in countries where most people don’t have an iPhone to use iMessage or an affordable cell phone plan to send SMS messages. When Meta bought WhatsApp eight years ago in a cash and stock deal worth a record $19 billion, it was considered a risky bet. Today, even though it doesn’t contribute much to Meta’s bottom line, WhatsApp is arguably the company’s most essential international product.
At the same time, WhatsApp is grappling with some of the same misinformation problems that have plagued Facebook. But unlike Facebook, WhatsApp uses private, encrypted communication software that makes it harder for the company to moderate content. The problem is particularly acute in India, where unfounded rumors circulating on the app have had dire consequences. Recently, the Indian government has threatened to crack down on one of WhatsApp’s most core values: user privacy, with regulators seeking a way for authorities to access people’s messages when needed. Will Meta continue to keep WhatsApp messages private even when pressure mounts?
“You have to think about what it means to offer a service where people bring their most private thoughts, most private messages, most private calls to the people they care about most around the world,” Will Cathcart, current chief said. Whatsapp.
In our sixth episode of the new season of land of giantsVox Media Podcast Network’s award-winning fiction podcast series about the most influential tech companies of our time. this season, recoded And ledge The team has teamed up over the course of seven episodes to tell the story of Facebook’s journey to becoming a meta, which includes interviews with current and former executives.
Listen 6th episode Land of Giants: Facebook / Meta DisruptionAnd catch the first five episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast.