Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service now has 2 billion users worldwide, the company announced in a blog post today, up from 1.5 billion and 1 billion users in 2018 and 2016, respectively. That compares to 2.5 billion users for Facebook itself, according to The Wall Street Journal, and 1 billion Instagram users (although that number is from June 2018).
The announcement today makes WhatsApp only the second app from Facebook to join the two-billion-users club. (Facebook’s marquee app has 2.5 billion users.) In an earnings call in late January, Facebook also noted that that there were 2.26 billion users that opened either Facebook, Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp each day, up from 2.2 billion last quarter. The family of apps sees 2.89 billion total monthly users, up 9% year-over-year.
WhatsApp used the milestone to reiterate the importance of encrypting its users’ messages, a practice that is coming under increasing amounts of pressure from lawmakers around the world.
WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart says that the company has no plans to disable encryption on its service. “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 modern society,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
WhatsApp, founded 11 years ago and sold to Facebook for $19 billion six years ago, took the opportunity today to reiterate that it is committed to providing end-to-end encryption to its customers all over the globe — a crucial feature lauded by security experts everywhere but something that many governments are increasingly trying to contest.
The two-billion milestone is a big feat for WhatsApp, which gained immense popularity without any marketing in developing markets such as India, where calls and texts were fairly expensive for most people. There is no app in India today that has greater penetration than WhatsApp.