Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service now has 2 billion users worldwide, the company announced in a blog post today, up from 1.5 billion and 1 billion users in 2018 and 2016 respectively. That is comparable to 2.5 billion users for Facebook itself, according to The Wall Street Journal, and 1 billion Instagram users (although that number is from June 2018).
WhatsApp used the milestone to reiterate the importance of encrypting the messages of its users, a practice that is coming under increasing pressure from legislators around the world. Governments claim that being unable to read people’s messages makes it harder to discover when the messaging app is being used to facilitate terrorism, exploitation of children, and other crimes.
WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart says the company has no plans to disable encryption on its service. “Throughout human history, people have been able to communicate privately with each other, and we don’t think this should disappear in a modern society,” he said The Wall Street Journal. However, the CEO added that WhatsApp will provide metadata when this is useful for an investigation.
Cathcart told it in the future WSJ that the company is working to make the service interoperable with other Facebook messaging clients in plans announced last year by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Cathcart, however, admitted that this integration may have limitations, with some features that are present on a messaging service such as Messenger that don’t translate into WhatsApp.