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people, but this was not possible without an iPhone developer, so Fishman introduced Koum to Igor Solomennikov, a developer in Russia that he had found on Koum almost immediately chose the name
WhatsApp because it sounded like whats up, and a
week later on his birthday, on February 24, 2009, he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California. However, early
WhatsApp kept crashing or getting stuck and at a particular point, Koum felt like giving up and looking for a new
job, upon which Acton encouraged him to wait for a few
more months.[18]
In June 2009, Apple launched push notications, letting developers ping users when they were not using an
app. Koum updated WhatsApp so that each time the
user changed their statuses, it would ping everyone in
the users network.[18] WhatsApp 2.0 was released with
a messaging component and the active users suddenly
swelled to 250,000. Koum visited Acton, who was still
unemployed while managing another startup and decided
to join the company.[18] In October Acton persuaded ve
ex-Yahoo! friends to invest $250,000 in seed funding,
and as a result was granted co-founder status and a stake.
He ocially joined on November 1.[18] After months at
beta stage, the application eventually launched in November 2009 exclusively on the App Store for the iPhone.
Koum then hired an old friend who lived in Los Angeles, Chris Peier, to make the BlackBerry version, which
arrived two months later.[18]

Messaging with WhatsApp

WhatsApp Messenger is a proprietary, cross-platform,

encrypted instant messaging client for smartphones.[10] It
uses the Internet to send text messages, documents, images, video, user location and audio messages[11][12] to
other users using standard cellular mobile numbers.
As of February 2016, WhatsApp had a user base of one
billion,[13][14] making it the most popular messaging application.[14][15]
WhatsApp Inc., based in Mountain View, California,
United States, was acquired by Facebook Inc. on February 19, 2014, for approximately US$19.3 billion.[16][17]

WhatsApp was switched from a free to paid service to

avoid growing too fast, mainly because the primary cost
was sending verication texts to users. In December 2009
WhatsApp for the iPhone was updated to send photos.
By early 2011, WhatsApp was in the top 20 of all apps in
Apples U.S. App Store.[18]


Further information: Timeline of WhatsApp

In April 2011, Sequoia Capital was the only venture investor

in WhatsApp and paid approximately $8 million
1.1 20092014
for more than 15 percent of the company in 2011 on top
months of negotiaWhatsApp Inc., was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton of their $250,000 seed funding, after[19][20][21]
and Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo!. After Koum and Acton left Yahoo! in September 2007, the By February 2013, WhatsApps user base had swollen to
duo traveled to South America as a break from work.[18] about 200 million active users and its sta to 50. Sequoia
At one point they applied for jobs at Facebook but were invested another $50 million, valuing WhatsApp at $1.5
rejected.[18] For the rest of the following years Koum re- billion.[18]
lied on his $400,000 savings from Yahoo!. In January
In a December 2013 blog post, WhatsApp claimed that
2009, after purchasing an iPhone and realizing that the
400 million active users use the service each month.[22]
seven-month-old App Store was about to spawn a whole
As of April 22, 2014, WhatsApp had over 500 million
new industry of apps, he started visiting his friend Alex
monthly active users, 700 million photos and 100 million
Fishman in West San Jose where the three would disvideos were being shared daily, and the messaging system
cuss "...having statuses next to individual names of the


was handling more than 10 billion messages each day.[23]

On August 24, 2014, Koum announced on his Twitter
account that WhatsApp had over 600 million active users
worldwide. At that point WhatsApp was adding about 25
million new users every month, or 833,000 active users
per day.[24][25] With 65 million active users representing
10% of the total worldwide users, India has the largest
number of consumers.[26]

tee on Internet Crimes. Subsequently Iranian president

Hassan Rouhani issued an order to the Ministry of ICT
to stop ltering WhatsApp.[35][36]


In August 2014, WhatsApp was the most globally popular

messaging app, with more than 600 million active
users.[24] By early January 2015, WhatsApp had 700
million monthly active users with over 30 billion messages being sent every day.[38] In April 2015, Forbes predicted that between 2012 and 2018, the telecommunications industry will lose a combined total of $386 billion
because of OTT services like WhatsApp and Skype.[39]
That month, WhatsApp had over 800 million active
users.[40][41] By September 2015, the user base had grown
to 900 million,[42] and by February 2016 it had grown to
one billion.[13]

Facebook era (2014present)

On February 19, 2014, months after a venture capital nancing round at a $1.5 billion valuation,[27] Facebook
announced it was acquiring WhatsApp for US$19 billion,
its largest acquisition to date.[17] At the time, the acquisition was the largest purchase of a venture-backed company in history. Sequoia Capital received an approximate
50x return on its initial investment.[28] Facebook, which
was advised by Allen & Co, paid $4 billion in cash, $12
billion in Facebook shares, and an additional $3 billion
in restricted stock units granted to WhatsApps founders
(advised by Morgan Stanley), Koum and Acton.[29] Employee stock was scheduled to vest over four years subsequent to closing.[17] The transaction was the largest
purchase of a company backed by venture capitalists to
date.[16] Days after the announcement, WhatsApp users
experienced a loss of service, leading to anger across social media.[30]

Just three days after announcing that WhatsApp had been

purchased by Facebook, Koum said they were working to
introduce voice calls in the coming months. He also advanced that new mobile phones would be sold in Germany
with the WhatsApp brand, as their main goal was to be in
all smartphones.[37]

As of November 30, 2015, the Android client for WhatsApp started making links to another messenger called
Telegram unclickable and uncopyable. [43] [44] [45] This
is an active block, as conrmed by multiple sources,
rather than a bug,[45] and the Android source code
which recognises Telegram URLs has been identied.[45]
URLs with telegram as domain-name are targeted actively and explicitly - the word 'telegram' appears in the
The acquisition caused a considerable number of users to
code.[45] This functioning risks being considered antimove, or try out other message services as well. Telegram
competitive,[43][44][45] and has not been explained by
claimed to have seen 8 million additional downloads of its
app.[31] Line claimed to have seen 2 million new users for
On January 18, 2016, WhatsApps founder Jan Koum
its service.[32]
announced that the service would no longer charge their
At a keynote presentation at the Mobile World Congress
users a $1 annual subscription fee in an eort to remove
in Barcelona in February 2014, Facebook CEO Mark
a barrier faced by some users who do not have a credit
Zuckerberg said that Facebooks acquisition of Whatcard to pay for the service.[46][47] He also explained that
sApp was closely related to the vision.
the app would not display any third party advertisement
According to a TechCrunch article, Zuckerbergs vision
and instead would bring new features such as the ability
for was as follows: The idea, he said, is to
to communicate with business organizations.[13][48]
develop a group of basic internet services that would be
free of charge to use 'a 911 for the internet.' These could By June 2016, more than 100 million voice calls are made
be a social networking service like Facebook, a messag- per day on WhatsApp according to a post on the coming service, maybe search and other things like weather. panys blog.[49]
Providing a bundle of these free of charge to users will
work like a gateway drug of sorts users who may be
able to aord data services and phones these days just 2 Platform support
dont see the point of why they would pay for those data
services. This would give them some context for why they After months at beta stage, the application eventually
are important, and that will lead them to paying for more launched in November 2009 exclusively on the App Store
services like this or so the hope goes.[33]
for the iPhone. In January 2010, support for BlackBerry
On May 9, 2014, the government of Iran announced that
it had proposed to block the access to WhatsApp service to Iranian residents. The reason for this is the assumption of WhatsApp by the Facebook founder Mark
Zuckerberg, who is an American Zionist, said Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, head of the countrys Commit-

smartphones was added, and subsequently for Symbian

OS in May 2010 and for Android OS in August 2010.
In August 2011 a beta for Nokias non-smartphone OS
Series 40 was added. A month later support for Windows
Phone was added, followed by BlackBerry 10 in March
2013.[50] In April 2015, support for Samsungs Tizen OS

was added.[51] An unocial port has been released for
the MeeGo-based Nokia N9 called Wazapp,[52] as well
as a port for the Maemo-based Nokia N900 called Yappari.[53]
The oldest device capable of running WhatsApp is the
Symbian-based Nokia N95 released in March 2007.

the WhatsApp Web format, the app, which will be synced

with a users mobile device, is available for download on
the website. It supports OS versions of Windows 8 and
Mac OS 10.9 and higher.[64][65]

3 Technical

In August 2014, WhatsApp released an update to

its Android app, adding support for Android Wear
WhatsApp uses a customized version of the open
standard Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol
In 2014 an unocial open source plug-in called (XMPP).[66] Upon installation, it creates a user account
whatsapp-purple was released for Pidgin, implementing using ones phone number as the username (Jabber ID:
its XMPP and making it possible to use WhatsApp on a [phone number]
Windows or Linux PC.[55] WhatsApp responded by automatically blocking phone numbers that connected to WhatsApp software automatically compares all the phone
numbers from the devices address book with its cenWhatsApp using this plug-in.
tral database of WhatsApp users to automatically add
On January 21, 2015, WhatsApp launched What- contacts to the users WhatsApp contact list. PrevisApp Web, a web client which can be used through ously the Android and Nokia Series 40 versions used an
a web browser by syncing with the mobile devices MD5-hashed, reversed-version of the phones IMEI as
password,[67] while the iOS version used the phones WiOn February 26, 2016, WhatsApp announced they would Fi MAC address instead of IMEI.[68][69] A 2012 update
cease support for BlackBerry (including BlackBerry 10), now generates a random password on the server side.[70]
Series 40 and Symbian, as well as some older versions Some Dual SIM devices may not be compatible with
of Android, Windows Phone and iOS, by the end of WhatsApp, though there are some workarounds for


WhatsApp Web

In January 2015, WhatsApp introduced a voice calling

feature; this helped WhatsApp to attract a completely different segment of the user population.[72]

WhatsApp was ocially made available for PCs through

a web client, under the name WhatsApp Web, in late
January 2015 through an announcement made by Koum
on his Facebook page: Our web client is simply an extension of your phone: the web browser mirrors conversations and messages from your mobile devicethis means
all of your messages still live on your phone. The WhatsApp users handset must still be connected to the Internet
for the browser application to function. All major desktop browsers are supported except for Microsoft Internet
Explorer. WhatsApp Webs user interface is based on the
default Android one.

Multimedia messages are sent by uploading the image,

audio or video to be sent to an HTTP server and then
sending a link to the content along with its Base64 encoded thumbnail (if applicable).[73]

An unocial derivative called WhatsAppTime has been

developed, which is a standard Win32 application for PCs
and supports notications through the Windows notication area.[60] There are similar solutions for Mac OS X,
such as the open-source ChitChat[61][62][63] and multiple
wrappers available in the App Store.

3.1 End-to-end Encryption

WhatsApp follows a 'store and forward' mechanism for

exchanging messages between two users. When a user
sends a message, it rst travels to the WhatsApp server
where it is stored. Then the server repeatedly requests the
receiver acknowledge receipt of the message. As soon as
the message is acknowledged, the server drops the message; it is no longer available in database of server. WhatsApp server keeps the message only for 30 days in its
As of January 21, 2015, the desktop version was only database when it is not delivered (when the receiver is
available to Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone not active on WhatsApp for 30 days).[74]
users. Later on, it also added support for iOS, Nokia Series 40, and Nokia S60 (Symbian).[58][59]

On November 18, 2014, Open Whisper Systems announced a partnership with WhatsApp to provide endto-end encryption by incorporating the encryption protocol used in Signal into each WhatsApp client platform.[75]
Open Whisper Systems said that they had already incorporated the protocol into the latest WhatsApp client for
Android, and that support for other clients, group/media
2.2 Windows and Mac
messages, and key verication would be coming soon
On May 10, 2016, the messaging service was introduced after.[76] WhatsApp conrmed the partnership to refor both Windows and Mac operating systems. Similar to porters, but there was no announcement or documen-

tation about the encryption feature on the ocial website, and further requests for comment were declined.[77]
In April 2015, German magazine Heise Security used
ARP spoong to conrm that the protocol had been implemented for Android-to-Android messages, and that
WhatsApp messages from or to iPhones running iOS
were still not end-to-end encrypted.[78] They expressed
the concern that regular WhatsApp users still could not
tell the dierence between end-to-end encrypted messages and regular messages.[78] On April 5, 2016, WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems announced that they
had nished adding end-to-end encryption to every form
of communication on WhatsApp, and that users could
now verify each others keys.[14][79] Users were also given
the option to enable a trust on rst use mechanism in order to be notied if a correspondents key changes.[80] According to a white paper that was released along with the
announcement, WhatsApp messages are encrypted with
the Signal Protocol.[81] WhatsApp calls are encrypted
with SRTP, and all client-server communications are
layered within a separate encrypted channel.[81] The
Signal Protocol library used by WhatsApp is open-source
and published under the GPLv3 license.[81][82]

meaning messages could easily be read if packet traces
were available.[86]
In May 2012 security researchers noticed that new
updates of WhatsApp no longer sent messages as
plaintext,[87][88][89] but the cryptographic method implemented was subsequently described as broken.[90][91] In
August 2012 the WhatsApp support sta said that messages were encrypted in the latest version of the WhatsApp software for iOS and Android (but not BlackBerry,
Windows Phone, and Symbian), without specifying the
cryptographic method.[92]
On January 6, 2012, an unknown hacker published a website that made it possible to change the status of an arbitrary WhatsApp user, as long as the phone number was
known. To make it work, it only required a restart of the
app. According to the hacker, it was only one of many security problems in WhatsApp. On January 9, WhatsApp
reported that it had resolved the problem, although the
only measure actually taken was to block the websites IP
address. As a reaction, a Windows tool was made available for download providing the same functionality. This
problem has since been resolved in the form of an IP address check on currently logged-in sessions.[93][94]

Cade Metz, writing in Wired, said WhatsApp, more

than any company before it, has taken encryption to the German Tech site The H demonstrated how to use WhatsAPI to hijack any WhatsApp account on September
14, 2012.[95] Shortly after, a legal threat to WhatsAPIs
developers was alleged, characterized by The H as an
apparent reaction to security reports, and WhatsAPIs
4 Security concerns
source code was taken down for some days.[96] The WhatsAPI team has since returned to active development.[97]
On May 20th, 2011, an unconrmed security researcher
On December 1, 2014, Indrajeet Bhuyan and Saurav Kar,
from the Netherlands under the pseudonym Whatsapboth 17-years old, demonstrated the WhatsApp Message
pHack published, to the Dutch websites
Handler Vulnerability, which allows anyone to remotely
and GeenStijl, a method by which WhatsApp accounts
crash WhatsApp just by sending a specially crafted mescould be hijacked. The researcher noticed a aw in the
sage of 2kb in size. To escape the problem, the user
authentication process, which allowed the researcher to
who receives the specially crafted message has to delete
hijack an account by trying to login with another phone
his/her whole conversation and start a fresh chat, because
number and intercepting the verication SMS text mesopening the message keeps on crashing WhatsApp unsage that, under specic conditions, remained in the outless the chat is deleted completely.[98] In early 2015, afbox of the Symbian phone after the WhatsApp client
ter WhatsApp launched a web client that can be used
would attempt to send it to itself. On Android, the verfrom the browser, Bhuyan also found that it had two secuication message could be obtained through reading the
rity issues that compromised user privacy: the WhatsApp
radio with a tool named logcat. The researcher would
Photo Privacy Bug and the WhatsApp Web Photo Sync
then copy and send the intercepted verication message
to the real number of the phone, using an SMS gateway
to spoof the sender phone number to the number the On March 2, 2016, WhatsApp introduced its documentresearcher tried to maliciously login with. This method sharing feature, initially allowing users to share PDF les
worked, and WhatsApp issued a patch within one day af- with their contacts.[101] However, WhatsApps default
ter publication of the articles, to both the Android and state of automatically downloading attachments raised
Symbian clients. WhatsApp did have a security mecha- some concerns in the press about risk and security once
nism, by design, which would disable the account on the support for document sharing expanded beyond PDF
phone of the original owner of the phone number, when les.[102]
they had a WhatsApp account.[83][84][85]
In May 2011, another security hole was reported which
left communication through WhatsApp susceptible to
packet analysis. WhatsApp communications were not
encrypted, and data was sent and received in plaintext,

Privacy concerns

A major privacy and security problem has been the subject of a joint Canadian-Dutch government investigation.
The primary concern was that WhatsApp required users
to upload their mobile phones entire address book to
WhatsApp servers so that WhatsApp could discover who,
among the users contacts, was available via WhatsApp.
While this was a fast and convenient way to quickly nd
and connect the user with contacts who were also using WhatsApp, it meant that their address book was then
mirrored on the WhatsApp servers, including contact information for contacts who were not using WhatsApp.
This information, which consisted solely of phone numbers without any additional information such as the name
of the contact, was stored in hashed, though not salted,
form.[103][104][105][106] Late 2015, the Dutch government
released a press-statement claiming that WhatsApp had
changed its hashing method, making it much harder to
reverse, and thus now fully complies with all rules and

out of sharing this data with Facebook for advertisement


6 Reception
6.1 Security and privacy
On March 31, 2013 the Saudi Arabian Communications
and Information Technology Commission (CITC) issued a statement regarding possible measures against
WhatsApp, among other applications, unless the service
providers took serious steps to comply with monitoring
and privacy regulations.[113]

In February 2014, the public authority for data privacy of

the German state of Schleswig-Holstein advised against
using WhatsApp, as the service lacked privacy protection
such as end-to-end client side encryption technology.[114]
A user does not need to send a friend request to send mes- WhatsApp started implementing end-to-end encryption
sages to another user, due to the contact discovery men- in late 2014 and nished in April 2016.[14]
tioned above.
From April 5, 2016, end-to-end encryption for all users
In November 2014, WhatsApp introduced a feature
named Read Receipts which alerts senders when their
messages are read by recipients. Within a week, WhatsApp introduced an update allowing users to disable
this feature so that message recipients do not send
In February 2015, a Dutch university student named
Maikel Zweerink published an app that set out to prove
that anyone could track a WhatsApp users status and
also keep an eye of their changing prole pictures, privacy settings or status messages regardless of their privacy settings.[109]
In August 2016, WhatsApp announced that it will start
sharing account information with Facebook, consisting of
the phone number of the account owner and aggregated
analytical data. The address books and metadata of users
are not shared. According to WhatsApp, this account information is shared to track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better ght spam on WhatsApp. And by connecting your phone number with Facebooks systems, Facebook can oer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them.. This means that Facebook can target advertisements on the Facebook Platform better by
making links between users based on the phone numbers, and make friend suggestions to its users based
on WhatsApps data. User data will not be shared with
advertisers, and is only used internally on the Facebook
services. WhatsApp emphasizes the content of user messages is still kept private thanks to its end-to-end encryption, which means WhatsApp cannot read the content of
chats.[110][111] However, users are given the choice to opt-

communications, including le transfers and voice calls,

is supported for users of the latest client, encryption being
enabled by default. It uses Curve25519 for key exchange,
HKDF for generation of session keys (AES-256 in CBC
mode for encryption and HMAC-SHA256 for integrity
verication) and SHA512 for generating the two 30 digit
nger prints of both users identity keys so they can verify each other as needed. Even the company would be unable to decrypt users communications. Amnesty International and security professionals praised the move; the US
Federal Bureau of Investigation criticised it as threatening the work of law enforcement.[115] Telegram, another
messaging service, is reported by the BBC to be used by
Islamic State extremists.[115]
WhatsApp is not the only messaging service that provides
end-to-end encryption; among others, Threema, Wickr,
Signal, Silent Phone, and Line also provide such encryption by default. iMessage and Viber provide it under
special circumstances.[116][117] Telegram provides end-toend encryption as an opt-in feature, but does not support
end-to-end encrypted group messaging.[14]
As of April 5, 2016, WhatsApp has a score of 6 out of
7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Secure
Messaging Scorecard. It has received points for having
communications encrypted in transit, having communications encrypted with keys the provider doesn't have access to, allowing users to verify contacts identities, having past messages secure if the encryption keys are stolen,
having completed a recent independent security audit,
and having the security designs properly documented. It
is missing a point because the code is not open to independent review.[118]



Brazilian court orders

a barrier faced by some users who do not have a credit

card to pay for the service.[46][47] He also explained that
On December 17, 2015, mobile providers in Brazil were the app would not display any third party advertisement
ordered to block WhatsApp for 48 hours. The ban was and instead would bring new features such as the ability
ordered for the services failure to cooperate with crim- to communicate with business organizations.[13][48]
inal court orders in July and August 2015. The following morning, however, a judge from the appeals court
ordered that the ban be lifted for being an unreasonable 6.3 Competition and shares
response, recommending that the company be ned instead. Following the ban, but prior to its reversal, Face- Competing with a number of Asian-based messaging sermillion active users), Viber (209
book CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded by stating that vices (like WeChat (468
and LINE (170 million active
he was stunned that our eorts to protect peoples data
ten billion messages per
would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge
from two billion in
to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp.
We hope the Brazilian courts quickly reverse course.
The competing service Telegram reported that 1.5 mil- On June 13, 2013, WhatsApp announced that they had
new daily record by processing 27 billion
lion Brazilians had downloaded its app while the What- reached their
According to the Financial Times, WhatsApp ban was in place.
sApp has done to SMS on mobile phones what Skype
On March 1, 2016, Diego Dzodan, Facebooks vice- did to international calling on landlines.[133]
president for Latin America was arrested in Brazil for
2014, WhatsApp crossed half-a-billion user
not cooperating with an investigation in which WhatsApp In April
conversations were requested.
On March 2, 2016,
at dawn the next day, Dzodan was released because the In May 2014, WhatsApp crossed 50 million monthly acCourt of Appeal held that the arrest was disproportionate tive users in India, which is also its largest country by the
and unreasonable.[122]
number of monthly active users.[135]
On May 2, 2016, mobile providers in Brazil were ordered
to block WhatsApp for 72 hours for the services second
failure to cooperate with criminal court orders.[123][124]
Once again, the block was lifted following an appeal, after
nearly 24 hours.[125]


Business model

In response to the Facebook acquisition in 2014, Slate

columnist Matthew Yglesias questioned whether the companys business model of charging users $1 a year was
viable in the United States in the long term. It had prospered by exploiting a loophole in mobile phone carriers pricing. Mobile phone operators aren't really selling consumers some voice service, some data service,
and some SMS service, he explained. They are selling access to the network. The dierent pricing schemes
they come up with are just dierent ways of trying to
maximize the value they extract from consumers.[126] As
part of that, carriers sold SMS separately. That made it
easy for WhatsApp to nd a way to replicate SMS using data, and then sell that to mobile customers for $1
a year. But if WhatsApp gets big enough, then carrier
strategy is going to change, he predicted. You stop selling separate SMS plans and just have a take-it-or-leave-it
overall package. And then suddenly WhatsApp isn't doing anything.[126] The situation may have been dierent
in countries other than the United States.
On January 18, 2016, WhatsApps founder Jan Koum
announced that the service would no longer charge their
users a $1 annual subscription fee in an eort to remove

In October 2014, WhatsApp crossed 70 million monthly

active users in India, which is 10% of its total user base
(700 MM).[136]
As of February 2016, WhatsApp has over 1 billion users

7 Whatsapp related scams

In May 2016, some WhatsApp users were reported to
have been tricked into downloading a third-party application called WhatsApp Gold.[138] The application
was part of a scam that infected the users phones with

8 See also
Comparison of instant messaging clients
Comparison of VoIP software
List of most downloaded Android applications
List of virtual communities with more than 100 million active users

9 References
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