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WhatsApp logo text
Type Messaging App
Launch Date January 2009
Status Active
Product Line Consumer Goods
Platform iOS
Website www.whatsapp.com
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WhatsApp is a free mobile application that allows users to send messages, images, video, audio and more. It is accessible on smart phones, as well as desktop computers. WhatsApp uses internet connection and WIFI in order to facilitate communication between users. The app is meant to serve as a replacement for regular SMS text messages with over 900 million users worldwide using the service. [1] The application does not require a mobile plan or offer any services for purchase.


Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum

WhatsApp, was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo!.[2] Back in 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for approximately 19 billion dollars. Whatsapp has grown a large client base around the world and allows for easy communication between different countries. Currently, more than 1.5 billion users are active on Whatsapp each month. [3]



WhatsApp uses your phone's internet connection to send messages, avoiding any SMS fees that may apply to phone carriers. This free service remains one of the main attractions of using this app, as the service allows free messages from anywhere around the world.

Group Chats

This features allows users to form groups of up to 256 people. You are able to share messages, photos, or videos between users from all across the globe. WhatsApp also allows you to name the group and mute or customize notifications.

Voice and Phone Calls

Within the service a user is able to talk to family and friends for free. The app uses your phone's internet connection instead of your cell plan's voice minutes, eliminating any charges. Similar to Apple's Facetime, WhatsApp's video calls allows for users to have face-to-face conversations from anywhere around the world.

Document Sharing

Similar to other messaging apps, WhatsApp also allows users to send PDFs, documents, spreadsheets, slideshows and more. A user is able to send any document up to 100 MB.

WhatsApp Status

On February 24 2017, WhatsApp launched its Status feature, where users can upload videos as long as 45 seconds that will be visible to their contacts for 24 hours. This function is identical to Snapchat and Instagram stories. Just a year later, WhatsApp Status surpassed Snapchat in number of daily active users.[4]

Example of mobile app and how used today

Similar Platforms

Facebook Messenger

Main Article: Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger, also known as messenger, is an instant message service owned by the company, Facebook. The service is very similar to WhatsApp that it uses WiFi and internet connection to send and receive messages. A user does not have to be on the Facebook website or even have a Facebook account in order to use messenger. In 2014, Facebook released the Facebook messenger app allowing users to receive and send messages in a different application. This app allowed users to make phone calls and video calls [5].


Main Article: Snapchat

Snapcode to add friends on Snapchat

Snapchat is a messaging application that allows users to send each other short-lasting pictures or videos called ‘snaps’ to their friends or post on their Snapchat story for all their friends to see. Once these snaps disappear they are gone forever. This is different than WhatsApp because although text-based messages can be sent and received on the app it is primarily based around sending pictures and videos. In addition, Snapchat does not use phone numbers; instead, users must create a username and password to log into their account. These usernames and snap codes (as shown to the right) are used to look search for other users to add them as friends [6].


Kik is a messaging application that prompts a user to create a username, hiding their true identity compared to WhatsApp where the user uses their real name. However, this anonymity feature has caused this application to be related to many cases of sexting. This instant messaging application can be used to message an individual or create group chats. Kik differs from WhatsApp because instead of using your phone number to create an account, Kik uses an email and password in order to log in. Users can search for each other by username, Kik-code (similar to Snapchat’s snap -code) or by uploading the contacts from their phone [7]


Telegram is a cross-platform, cloud-based instant messaging software that was launched in 2013. Th software also offers end-to-end encrypted video calling, file sharing, and many other features. Accounts can be verified by SMS and are tied to telephone numbers. However, users can change the number associated with the account whenever they wish and the users contact will receive the new number automatically. Any account can be deleted at any time. Additionally, any account will be deleted automatically after six months of inactivity. A special feature offered by Telegram includes "Secret Chats" in which you can send encrypted messages to anyone else with a Telegram account however can only be accessed by the device by which you sent the message. This feature also has the options to be deleted at any time or self-destruct.

Ethical Implications and Concerns

Privacy Violation

Ethical implications with Whatsapp largely include user privacy violations. Online privacy is a common concern when for online platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. In the beginning, WhatsApp was known for securing user information and maintaining user privacy. However, since forming a partnership with Facebook in 2014 [8], the company revised their terms of use to state that the personal information of the user will be shared with Facebook and other third party companies. [9]

Encryption and Terrorism

WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption has been criticized for protecting terrorist communications from authorities. Islamic State terrorists were reported using WhatsApp to plot the November 2015 Paris attacks. [10] The terrorist group also uses WhatsApp to sell sex slaves. [11] In April 2017, the perpetrator of the 2017 Stockholm attack reportedly exchanged WhatsApp messages with an ISIS supporter before and after carrying out the attack, confessing that he "ran over 10 people in the centre of Stockholm." [12]

Current News

Over the past five years, the United Kingdom has issued bans on the popular application for a failure to cooperate with police investigations. [13] Facebook has also prevented UK citizens from understanding the type of data that is shared between friends and third party sources. The UK has currently lifted the ban on the application and allowed users to continue usage at their own risk.

The legislation now has rules that include giving individuals the right to know the information an organization like WhatsApp holds about them, which includes the data obtained from them. However, Facebook is not in agreement to share their information it has gathered about people via their friends and acquaintances.[13] In response WhatsApp has signed an undertaking, declaring that it will not share any user data with Facebook until the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25 May of 2018. In previous years, this app was banned in Brazil, China, Turkey, Iran, and many other concerns due to similar issues.

The General Data Protection Regulation is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. [14] Moreover, it addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The GDPR aims primarily to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.[14] It was adopted on 27 April 2016, but will become enforceable on 25 May 2018.

See similar topics

Facebook Messenger


  1. Explainer: What Is WhatsApp? - Webwise.ie | https://www.webwise.ie/parents/explainer-whatsapp/
  2. WhatsApp - Wikipedia | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WhatsApp
  3. WhatsApp - Statistics & Facts - Statista | https://www.statista.com/topics/2018/whatsapp/
  4. WhatsApp’s stories hit 450M users, stealing the globe from Snapchat - TechCrunch | https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/01/whatsapp-stories/
  5. Black, Tiffany. “Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Messenger.” Lifewire, Lifewire, 19 Nov. 2018. https://www.lifewire.com/facebook-messenger-4103719
  6. Moreau, Elise. “What Exactly Is Snapchat, Anyway?” Lifewire, Lifewire, 20 Apr. 2019. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-snapchat-3485908
  7. Moreau, Elise. “Need a Texting Alternative? Try the Kik App.” Lifewire, Lifewire, 5 Apr. 2019. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-kik-an-intro-to-the-free-texting-app-3486317
  8. Facebook to buy WhatsApp in a $19 billion deal - Gadgets360 | https://gadgets.ndtv.com/apps/news/facebook-to-buy-whatsapp-in-a-19-billion-deal-485677
  9. WhatsApp Shares Your UPI Payments Data With Facebook - Gadgets360 | https://gadgets.ndtv.com/apps/news/whatsapp-upi-payments-data-is-shared-with-facebook-1835087
  10. Paris attackers likely used encrypted apps, officials say - CNN | https://www.cnn.com/2015/12/17/politics/paris-attacks-terrorists-encryption/
  11. Isis using Whatsapp and Telegram to sell sex slaves - The Independent | https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-using-whatsapp-telegram-sell-sex-slaves-iraq-facebook-a7125551.html
  12. Stockholm suspect Rakhmat Akilov 'exchanged Whatsapp messages with Isis supporter before and after attack' - The Independent | https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/stockholm-attack-rakhmat-akilov-suspect-isis-whatsapp-messages-sweden-lorry-truck-before-after-a7676011.html
  13. 13.0 13.1 Facebook-WhatsApp Data-Sharing Plan Blocked by UK Watchdog - BBC News | https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43404071
  14. 14.0 14.1 General Data Protection Regulation - Wikipedia | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Data_Protection_Regulation/