Social Media

Who owns WhatsApp?

Who owns WhatsApp
Hidden agenda? WhatsApp's owners are pretty discrete

Despite having more than a billion users, WhatsApp is still regarded as something of a maverick social network. A place where you can exchange encrypted messages without the invasion into your privacy that you might get on sites such as Facebook. So who owns WhatsApp?

Facebook owns WhatsApp

Yes, it might come as something of a surprise to learn – even today – that WhatsApp is owned by Facebook. The social network bought WhatsApp back in 2014 for $19 billion.

You’d be forgiven for not realising that, because the WhatsApp app doesn’t exactly scream out loud about its parent company. 

To find any mention of Facebook’s ownership within the WhatsApp app for Android, you have to go to Settings > Help > FAQ and then click the About link at the very bottom of the page, where finally Facebook’s ownership is disclosed.

It’s almost as if Facebook would rather you didn’t know it was involved, and the information they provide on Facebook’s ownership suggests an awareness of user apprehension.

“WhatsApp joined Facebook in 2014, but continues to operate as a separate app with a laser focus on building a messaging service that works fast and reliably anywhere in the world,” the sole mention of Facebook on the About page reads. And that’s right at the bottom of the page. 

Who’s in charge of WhatsApp?

Ultimately, it’s Facebook CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg. 

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum remained as the CEO of the messaging service until earlier this year, when he announced he was leaving Facebook. Reports suggest he was unhappy about Facebook’s attempts to make it easier for businesses to use WhatsApp by weakening the service’s end-to-end encryption.

End-to-end encryption has proved to be both one of WhatsApp’s chief selling points and its biggest liability. The British government has lamented the security services’ inability to read WhatsApp messages, claiming it’s used in the organisation of terrorism. And businesses that are duty bound to monitor employees’ communications cannot use the platform because they cannot snoop on messages.

Facebook hadn’t announced a new CEO for WhatsApp at the time of writing.

Now read this: How do I create a custom tone for a WhatsApp contact?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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