WhatsApp has hit 2 billion users, and it's pushing back hard
Head of WhatsApp Will Cathcart told the Wall Street Journal the app now has 2 billion users.
WhatsApp has accumulated 500 million more users since 2018, but still has fewer users than the core Facebook app.
Cathcart stressed that WhatsApp goes to fight to stay its platform encrypted and personal despite pressure from the United States government et al. to create ways for enforcement to access private chats.
WhatsApp is bracing itself for a clash with the United States government over encryption.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Wednesday, head of WhatsApp Will Cathcart revealed the messaging app has now hit 2 billion users, up from 1.5 billion two years ago. It still falls behind Facebook core app, which has 2.5 billion users worldwide.
Cathcart used the interview as an opportunity to draw a line within the sand over end-to-end encryption, the system that permits WhatsApp users' messages to remain private and inaccessible even by WhatsApp itself.
Recently WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook have come struggling from the United States government to make ways for enforcement to bypass encryption. Attorney General William Barr last year asked Facebook to delay its plans for encrypting all its messaging platforms — which Facebook rejected.
"For all of human history, people are ready to communicate privately with one another [...] and that we don't think that ought to get away during a modern society," Cathcart told the Journal.
The US is not the only government that's been pressuring WhatsApp to supply encryption backdoors. Last year the allied "Five Eyes" countries (the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) united in pushing for encrypted services to create "safeguards" for enforcement — but stopped in need of calling for actual technological "backdoors," security vulnerabilities deliberately left during a system.
The argument against backdoors runs that they weaken the system as an entire as they might be exploited by malicious actors aside from enforcement .
Cathcart said that despite Faceook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's grand plans to weave together Facebook's suite of social media platforms including Instagram and WhatsApp, WhatsApp's engineers are still focused on a constrained set of products comprising private messaging, payments, and customer-service tools for businesses.
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