The world depends on WhatsApp

WhatsApp is used by 2.5B+ people and is the most popular app in 100+ countries. When it goes down, people lose more than messaging -- they lose critical infrastructure.

On Monday, Facebook suffered a 6-hour outage (its worst since 2008) that also took down Instagram and WhatsApp.

The world depends on WhatsApp

For many American users, jumping over to Twitter and making memes was a good option. However, the outage was much scarier in other parts of the world…

… because WhatsApp has become critical infrastructure

According to Business of Apps, the Facebook-owned app:

  • Has 2.5B+ users worldwide
  • Is the most popular messaging app in 100+ countries

In developing countries with underdeveloped (or overly expensive) telecom options, WhatsApp is the go-to alternative to text.

Seven countries — Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Argentina, Malaysia, Colombia, and Brazil — have 90%+ of their population on the app.

Much more than messaging

WhatsApp delivers critical (and different) services to countries around the world, per The Washington Post:

  • In Lebanon, COVID-19 tests can be ordered on the app
  • In Argentina, a chatbot connects patients to doctors to report COVID symptoms
  • A Philippine diplomatic mission in the United Arab Emirates uses the app as a hotline for its citizens working in the country
  • In Brazil, citizens use an in-app directory of 1000s of retailers

The app’s largest market — India (390m users) — has 15m+ small businesses using its WhatsApp Business platform.

WhatsApp’s loss…

… was a big gain for competing encrypted messaging apps:

  • Telegram jumped 55 places to No. 1 in US iPhone downloads
  • Signal gained millions of users after receiving endorsements from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (and whistleblower Edward Snowden)

Facebook’s outage happened a day after the unmasking of the social network’s whistleblower, former employee Frances Haugen. Both incidents — underscored by the importance of WhatsApp — give further credence to the belief that Facebook needs more regulation.

Topics: Big Tech Facebook

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