What is WhatsApp Web and How to Use WhatsApp Web

What is WhatsApp Web and How to Use WhatsApp Web

What is WhatsApp Web

WhatsApp is a great communication tool, allowing you to easily send messages and files for free and a whole lot more. But sometimes it’s easier to type out your messages on a full-size keyboard with the ease of a desktop web browser. That’s where WhatsApp Web comes in to use. WhatsApp Web gives its users the ability to read and send messages directly from their web browsers.

Technical Explanation: WhatsApp Web is a computer based extension of the WhatsApp account on your phone. The messages you send and receive are fully synced between your phone and your computer, and you can see all messages on both devices. Any action you take on the phone will apply to WhatsApp Web and vice versa.

WhatsApp Web is not another WhatsApp account. When you use WhatsApp on your computer and your phone, you are simply accessing the same account on these two devices.

Here’s how to set up WhatsApp Web on a computer or tablet.

How to Use WhatsApp Web on Desktop Computer

It couldn’t be easier to access WhatsApp web – all you need is your computer, and your phone with WhatsApp logged in.

Firstly, head over to https://web.whatsapp.com/ (should open in a separate tab) and you’ll be faced with a large QR code, which is a black-and-white pattern of squares.

What is WhatsApp Web and How to Use WhatsApp Web
What is WhatsApp Web and How to Use WhatsApp Web

Now load up WhatsApp on your phone, then press the ‘menu’ button, which is the three vertical dots to the top left of the screen, and select WhatsApp web.

You’re faced with a list of desktop and tablet devices you’re logged in to, so if your computer’s already linked to WhatsApp, it’ll be on this list (although you won’t have seen the QR code on the WhatsApp web website in that case).

To log in on a new device, press the white + sign on the top right of the menu, which will launch your camera – you may need to give WhatsApp permission to do so if you haven’t already.

Now line the box in the camera up with the QR code on your computer screen – if this works, the camera on your phone will close, and WhatsApp web will open on your computer. If it doesn’t work, try refreshing your computer page to try again.

How to Use WhatsApp Web on iPad or Android tablet

Setting up WhatsApp web on your browser on a tablet is a little tricky, because the tablet browsers don’t appear to let you use WhatsApp web – instead they prompt you to download the app.

However, venturing to the app store on your tablet will result in it telling you the app isn’t available – which is correct.

The way to get around this is to request the desktop site on your tablet, which will show you the page as it’d appear on a computer instead of what you’re seeing on a tablet.

What is WhatsApp Web and How to Use WhatsApp Web
What is WhatsApp Web and How to Use WhatsApp Web

To do this on Safari on iPad, press and hold the page refresh button to the right of the URL bar at the top. After a few moments a prompt will appear to request desktop site – press this, and you should see the same page you’d get on a computer. This can be a little temperamental, so try a few times if it doesn’t work immediately.

On Chrome on Android tablets, press the menu button on the browser, which is three vertical dots to the top right of the screen. An option on the menu is ‘Desktop site’ with a tick-box next to it – selection this option, and the page will reload to the desktop version.

From here, you can follow the instructions above “How to Use WhatsApp Web on Desktop Computer”.


Whatsapp Info & History

WhatsApp Messenger or simply WhatsApp is a freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) service owned by Facebook, Inc. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media. WhatsApp’s client application runs on mobile devices but is also accessible from desktop computers, as long as the user’s mobile device remains connected to the Internet while they use the desktop app.

The service requires users to provide a standard cellular mobile number for registering with the service. In January 2018, WhatsApp released a standalone business app targeted at small business owners, called WhatsApp Business, to allow companies to communicate with customers who use the standard WhatsApp client.

The client application was created by WhatsApp Inc. of Mountain View, California, which was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for approximately US$19.3 billion. It became the world’s most popular messaging application by 2015, and has over 2 billion users worldwide as of February 2020. It has become the primary means of electronic communication in multiple countries and locations, including Latin America, India, Pakistan and large parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom, Spain, and France.

WhatsApp was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, former employees of Yahoo!. After leaving Yahoo! in September 2007, they took some time off in South America. At one point, they applied for jobs at Facebook but were rejected.

In January 2009, after purchasing an iPhone and realizing the potential of the app industry on the App Store, Koum and Acton began visiting Koum’s friend Alex Fishman in West San Jose to discuss a new type of messaging app that would “[show] statuses next to individual names of the people”. They realized that to take the idea further, they’d need an iPhone developer. Fishman visited RentACoder.com, found Russian developer Igor Solomennikov, and introduced him to Koum.

Koum named the app WhatsApp to sound like “what’s up”. On February 24, 2009, he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California. However, when early versions of WhatsApp kept crashing, Koum considered giving up and looking for a new job. Acton encouraged him to wait for a “few more months”.

In June 2009, Apple launched push notifications, allowing users to be pinged when they were not using an app. Koum changed WhatsApp so that when a user’s status is changed, everyone in the user’s network would be notified. WhatsApp 2.0 was released with a messaging component and the number of active users suddenly increased to 250,000. Although Acton was working on another startup idea, he decided to join the company.

In October 2009, Acton persuaded five former friends at Yahoo! to invest $250,000 in seed funding, and Acton became a co-founder and was given a stake. He officially joined WhatsApp on November 1. After months at beta stage, the application launched in November 2009, exclusively on the App Store for the iPhone. Koum then hired a friend in Los Angeles, Chris Peiffer, to develop a BlackBerry version, which arrived two months later.

To cover the primary cost of sending verification texts to users, WhatsApp was changed from a free service to a paid one. In December 2009, the ability to send photos was added to the iPhone version. By early 2011, WhatsApp was one of the top 20 apps at Apple’s U.S. App Store.

In April 2011, Sequoia Capital invested about $8 million for more than 15% of the company, after months of negotiation with Sequoia partner Jim Goetz.

By February 2013, WhatsApp had about 200 million active users and 50 staff members. Sequoia invested another $50 million, and WhatsApp was valued at $1.5 billion.

In a December 2013 blog post, WhatsApp claimed that 400 million active users used the service each month.

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whasaappweb

WhatsApp Messenger is a freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) service owned by Facebook, Inc.[43] It allows users to send text messages and voice messages,[44] make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media.[45][46] WhatsApp’s client application runs on mobile devices but is also accessible from desktop computers, as long as the user’s mobile device remains connected to the Internet while they use the desktop app.[47] The service requires users to provide a standard cellular mobile number for registering with the service.[48] In January 2018, WhatsApp released a standalone business app targeted at small business owners, called WhatsApp Business, to allow companies to communicate with customers who use the standard WhatsApp client.

whasaappweb

The client application was created by WhatsApp Inc. of Mountain View, California, which was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for approximately US$ 19.3 billion.[51][52] It became the world’s most popular messaging application by 2015,[53][54] and has over 1.5 billion users worldwide as of February 2018.[55][53] It has become the primary means of communication in multiple countries and locations, including Latin America, India, Pakistan and large parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom, Spain, and France.[53]

History

2009–2014

WhatsApp was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, former employees of Yahoo!. After leaving Yahoo! in September 2007, they took some time off in South America.[10] At one point, they applied for jobs at Facebook but were rejected.

whasaappweb

In January 2009, after purchasing an iPhone and realizing the potential of the app industry on the App Store, Koum and Acton began visiting Koum’s friend Alex Fishman in West San Jose to discuss a new type of messaging app that would “[show] statuses next to individual names of the people”. They realized that to take the idea further, they’d need an iPhone developer. Fishman visited RentACoder.com, found Russian developer Igor Solomennikov, and introduced him to Koum.

whasaappweb

Koum named the app WhatsApp to sound like “what’s up”. On February 24, 2009, he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California. However, when early versions of WhatsApp kept crashing, Koum considered giving up and looking for a new job. Acton encouraged him to wait for a “few more months”.

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In June 2009, Apple launched push notifications, allowing users to be pinged when they were not using an app. Koum changed WhatsApp so that when a user’s status is changed, everyone in the user’s network would be notified.[10] WhatsApp 2.0 was released with a messaging component and the number of active users suddenly increased to 250,000. Although Acton was working on another startup idea, he decided to join the company.[10] In October 2009, Acton persuaded five former friends at Yahoo! to invest $250,000 in seed funding, and Acton became a co-founder and was given a stake. He officially joined WhatsApp on November 1.[10] After months at beta stage, the application launched in November 2009, exclusively on the App Store for the iPhone. Koum then hired a friend in Los Angeles, Chris Peiffer, to develop a BlackBerry version, which arrived two months later.

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To cover the primary cost of sending verification texts to users, WhatsApp was changed from a free service to a paid one. In December 2009, the ability to send photos was added to the iPhone version. By early 2011, WhatsApp was one of the top 20 apps at Apple’s U.S. App Store.

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In April 2011, Sequoia Capital invested about $8 million for more than 15% of the company, after months of negotiation with Sequoia partner Jim Goetz.

watssaapweb

By February 2013, WhatsApp had about 200 million active users and 50 staff members. Sequoia invested another $50 million, and WhatsApp was valued at $1.5 billion.

watssaapweb

In a December 2013 blog post, WhatsApp claimed that 400 million active users used the service each month.

Facebook subsidiary (2014–present)

On February 19, 2014, months after a venture capital financing round at a $1.5 billion valuation,[61] Facebook, Inc. announced it was acquiring WhatsApp for US$19 billion, its largest acquisition to date.[52] At the time, it was the largest acquisition of a venture-backed company in history.[51] Sequoia Capital received an approximate 5000% return on its initial investment.[62] Facebook, which was advised by Allen & Co, paid $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook shares, and (advised by Morgan Stanley) an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units granted to WhatsApp’s founders Koum and Acton.[63] Employee stock was scheduled to vest over four years subsequent to closing.[52] Days after the announcement, WhatsApp users experienced a loss of service, leading to anger across social media.

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The acquisition caused a considerable number of users to try and/or move to other message services. Telegram claimed that it acquired 8 million new users;[65] and Line, 2 million.

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At a keynote presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp was closely related to the Internet.org vision. A TechCrunch article said this about Zuckerberg’s vision:

The idea, he said, is to develop a group of basic internet services that would be free of charge to use – ‘a 911 for the internet.’ These could be a social networking service like Facebook, a messaging service, maybe search and other things like weather. Providing a bundle of these free of charge to users will work like a gateway drug of sorts – users who may be able to afford data services and phones these days just don’t see the point of why they would pay for those data services. This would give them some context for why they are important, and that will lead them to paying for more services like this – or so the hope goes.[67]

Just three days after announcing the Facebook purchase, Koum said they were working to introduce voice calls. He also said that new mobile phones would be sold in Germany with the WhatsApp brand, and that their ultimate goal was to be on all smartphones.[69]

In August 2014, WhatsApp was the most globally popular messaging app, with more than 600 million users.[70] By early January 2015, WhatsApp had 700 million monthly users and over 30 billion messages every day.[71] In April 2015, Forbes predicted that between 2012 and 2018, the telecommunications industry would lose $386 billion because of OTT services like WhatsApp and Skype.[72] That month, WhatsApp had over 800 million users.[73][74] By September 2015, it had grown to 900 million;[75] and by February 2016, one billion.[76]

In November 30, 2015, the Android WhatsApp client made links to another message service, Telegram, unclickable and uncopyable.[77][78][79] Multiple sources confirmed that it was intentional, not a bug,[79] and that it had been implemented when the Android source code that recognized Telegram URLs had been identified.[79] (The word “telegram” appeared in WhatsApp’s code.[79]) Some considered it an anti-competitive measure,[77][78][79] but WhatsApp offered no explanation.

Recent (2016–present)[edit]

On January 18, 2016, WhatsApp’s co-founder Jan Koum announced that it would no longer charge users a $1 annual subscription fee, in an effort to remove a barrier faced by users without credit cards.[80][81] He also said that the app would not display any third-party ads, and that it would have new features such as the ability to communicate with businesses.[76][82]

By June 2016, the company’s blog reported more than 100 million voice calls per day were being placed on WhatsApp.[83]

On November 10, 2016, WhatsApp launched a beta version of two-step verification for Android users, which allowed them to use their email addresses for further protection.[84] Also in November 2016, Facebook ceased collecting WhatsApp data for advertising in Europe.[85]

On February 24, 2017, (WhatsApp’s 8th birthday), WhatsApp launched a new Status feature similar to Snapchat and Facebook stories.[86]

On May 18, 2017, it was reported that the European Commission would fine Facebook €110 million for “misleading” it during the 2014 takeover of WhatsApp. The Commission alleged that in 2014, when Facebook acquired the messaging app, it “falsely claimed it was technically impossible to automatically combine user information from Facebook and WhatsApp.” However, in the summer of 2016, WhatsApp had begun sharing user information with its parent company, allowing information such as phone numbers to be used for targeted Facebook advertisements. Facebook acknowledged the breach, but said the errors in their 2014 filings were “not intentional.”[85]

In September 2017, WhatsApp’s co-founder Brian Acton left the company to start a nonprofit group,[87] later revealed as the Signal Foundation, which now develops the WhatsApp competitor Signal.[88] WhatsApp also announced a forthcoming business platform to enable companies to provide customer service at scale,[89] and airlines KLM and Aeroméxico announced their participation in the testing.[90][91][92][93] Both airlines previously launched customer services on the Facebook Messenger platform.

In January 2018, WhatsApp launched WhatsApp Business for small business use.[94]

In April 2018, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum announced he would be leaving the company.[95] Facebook later announced that Koum’s replacement would be Chris Daniels.[8]

Later in September 2018, WhatsApp introduced group audio and video call features.[96][97] In October, the “Swipe to Reply” option was added to the Android beta version, 16 months after it was introduced for iOS.[98]

On 25 November 2019, WhatsApp announced an investment of $250,000 into the startup ecosystem through a partnership with Startup India, where it will provide 500 startups with Facebook ad credits of $500 each. [99]

In December 2019, WhatsApp announced that a new update would lock out any Apple users who haven’t updated to iOS 9 or higher and Samsung, Huawei, Sony and Google users who haven’t updated to version 4.0 by February 1, 2020. The company also reported that Windows Phone operating systems would no longer be supported after December 31, 2019.[100] WhatsApp was announced to be the 3rd most downloaded mobile app of the decade from 2010 to 2019.[101]

2019 Lawsuit[edit]

In May 2019, WhatsApp was attacked by hackers who installed spyware on a number of victims’ smartphones.[102] The hack, allegedly developed by Israeli surveillance technology firm NSO Group, injected malware onto WhatsApp users’ phones via a remote-exploit bug in the app’s Voice over IP calling functions. A Wired report noted the attack was able to inject malware via calls to the targeted phone, even if the user did not answer the call.[103] On October 29, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against NSO Group in a San Francisco court, claiming that the alleged cyberattack violated US laws including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).[104] According to WhatsApp, the exploit “targeted at least 100 human-rights defenders, journalists and other members of civil society” among a total of 1,400 users in 20 countries.[105][106][107]

SMB and Enterprise platforms[edit]

Until 2017, WhatsApp was for individual use between two smartphones. This enabled businesses to communicate with customers,[108] but not at scale (e.g. in a contact center environment). In September 2017 WhatsApp confirmed rumors[109][110] that they were building and testing two new tools for businesses:[93]

  • A free WhatsApp Business app for small companies[111]
  • An Enterprise Solution for bigger companies with global customer bases, such as airlines, e-commerce retailers and banks, who would be able to offer customer service and conversational commerce (e-commerce) via WhatsApp chat, using live agents or chatbots. (As far back as 2015, companies like Meteordesk[112] had provided unofficial solutions for enterprises to attend to large numbers of users, but these were shut down by WhatsApp.)

Platform support[edit]

After months at beta stage, the official first release of WhatsApp launched in November 2009, exclusively at the App Store for iPhone. In January 2010, support for BlackBerry smartphones was added; and subsequently for Symbian OS in May 2010, and for Android OS in August 2010. In August 2011, a beta for Nokia‘s non-smartphone OS Series 40 was added. A month later, support for Windows Phone was added, followed by BlackBerry 10 in March 2013.[113] In April 2015, support for Samsung’s Tizen OS was added.[114] Unofficial ports, Wazapp and Yappari, have also been released for the MeeGo-based Nokia N9[115] and the Maemo-based Nokia N900, respectively.[116]

The oldest device capable of running WhatsApp was the Symbian-based Nokia N95 released in March 2007. (As of June 2017, WhatsApp is no longer compatible with it.)

In August 2014, WhatsApp released an Android update, adding support for Android Wear smartwatches.[117]

In 2014, an unofficial open source plug-in, whatsapp-purple, was released for Pidgin, implementing its XMPP and making it possible to use WhatsApp on PCs running Microsoft Windows and Linux.[118][third-party source needed] WhatsApp responded by blocking phone numbers that used the plug-in.[citation needed]

On January 21, 2015, WhatsApp launched WhatsApp Web, a browser-based web client that could be used by syncing with a mobile device’s connection.[119]

On February 26, 2016, WhatsApp announced they would cease support for BlackBerry (including BlackBerry 10), Series 40, and Symbian S60, as well as older versions of Android (2.2)Windows Phone (7.0), and iOS (6), by the end of 2016.[120] BlackBerry, Series 40, and Symbian support was then extended to June 30, 2017.[121] In June 2017, support for BlackBerry and Series 40 was once again extended until the end of 2017, while Symbian was dropped.[122]

Support for BlackBerry and older (version 8.0) Windows Phone and older (version 6) iOS devices was dropped on January 1, 2018, but was extended to December 2018 for Nokia Series 40.[123] In July 2018, it was announced that WhatsApp would soon be available for KaiOS feature phones.[124][125]

In October 2019, WhatsApp officially launched a new fingerprint app-locking feature for Android users.[126]

WhatsApp Web[edit]

WhatsApp was officially 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 device—this means all of your messages still live on your phone”. The WhatsApp user’s handset must still be connected to the Internet for the browser application to function. All major desktop browsers are supported except for Internet Explorer. WhatsApp Web’s user interface is based on the default Android one.[citation needed]

As of January 21, 2015, the desktop version was only available to Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone users. Later on, it also added support for iOS, Nokia Series 40, and Nokia S60 (Symbian).[127][128]

An unofficial derivative called WhatsAppTime has been developed, which is a standard Win32 application for PCs and supports notifications through the Windows notification area.[129]

There are similar solutions for macOS, such as the open-source ChitChat.[130][131][132]

Microsoft Windows and Mac[edit]

On May 10, 2016, the messaging service was introduced for both Microsoft Windows and macOS operating systems. WhatsApp currently does not allow audio or video calling from desktop operating systems. Similar to the WhatsApp Web format, the app, which will be synced with a user’s mobile device, is available for download on the website. It supports OS versions of Windows 8 and OS X 10.10 and higher.[133][134][135]

Technical[edit]

WhatsApp uses a customized version of the open standard Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP).[136] Upon installation, it creates a user account using one’s phone number as the username (Jabber ID: [phone number]@s.whatsapp.net).

WhatsApp software automatically compares all the phone numbers from the device’s address book with its central database of WhatsApp users to automatically add contacts to the user’s WhatsApp contact list. Previously the Android and Nokia Series 40 versions used an MD5-hashed, reversed-version of the phone’s IMEI as password,[137] while the iOS version used the phone’s Wi-Fi MAC address instead of IMEI.[138][139] A 2012 update now generates a random password on the server side.[140]

Some Dual SIM devices may not be compatible with WhatsApp, though there are some workarounds for this.[141]

In February 2015, WhatsApp introduced a voice calling feature; this helped WhatsApp to attract a completely different segment of the user population.[142][143] WhatsApp’s voice codec is Opus,[144][145][146] which uses the modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT) and linear predictive coding (LPC) audio compression algorithms.[147] WhatsApp uses Opus at 8–16 kHz sampling rates.[144][146] On November 14, 2016, Whatsapp added a video calling feature for users across Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone devices.[148][149]

On November 2017, Whatsapp released a new feature that would let its users delete messages sent by mistake within a time frame of 7 minutes.[150]

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).[151]

WhatsApp follows a “store and forward” mechanism for exchanging messages between two users. When a user sends a message, it first 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 the database of the server. The WhatsApp server keeps the message only for 30 days in its database when it is not delivered (when the receiver is not active on WhatsApp for 30 days).[152][self-published source?]

End-to-end encryption[edit]

On November 18, 2014, Open Whisper Systems announced a partnership with WhatsApp to provide end-to-end encryption by incorporating the encryption protocol used in Signal into each WhatsApp client platform.[153] 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 messages, and key verification would be coming soon after.[154] WhatsApp confirmed the partnership to reporters, but there was no announcement or documentation about the encryption feature on the official website, and further requests for comment were declined.[155] In April 2015, German magazine Heise Security used ARP spoofing to confirm 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.[156] They expressed the concern that regular WhatsApp users still could not tell the difference between end-to-end encrypted messages and regular messages.[156] On April 5, 2016, WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems announced that they had finished adding end-to-end encryption to “every form of communication” on WhatsApp, and that users could now verify each other’s keys.[37][157] Users were also given the option to enable a trust on first use mechanism in order to be notified if a correspondent’s key changes.[158] According to a white paper that was released along with the announcement, WhatsApp messages are encrypted with the Signal Protocol.[159] WhatsApp calls are encrypted with SRTP, and all client-server communications are “layered within a separate encrypted channel”.[159] The Signal Protocol library used by WhatsApp is open-source and published under the GPLv3 license.[159][160]

Cade Metz, writing in Wired, said, “WhatsApp, more than any company before it, has taken encryption to the masses.”[43]

WhatsApp Payments[edit]

WhatsApp Payments is a peer-to-peer money transfer feature that is currently only available in India. WhatsApp has received permission from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to enter into partnership with multiple banks in July 2017[161] to allow users to make in-app payments and money transfers using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).[162] UPI enables account-to-account transfers from a mobile app without having any details of the beneficiary’s bank.[163] This feature is being pilot tested with over a million users since April 2019, however there has not been any update on the final roll out.[164]

WhatsApp Cryptocurrency[edit]

On February 28, 2019, The New York Times reported that Facebook was “hoping to succeed where Bitcoin failed” by developing an in-house cryptocurrency that would be incorporated into WhatsApp. The project reportedly involves over 50 engineers under the direction of former PayPal president David Marcus. This ‘Facebook coin’ will reportedly be a stablecoin pegged to the value of a basket of different foreign currencies.[165]

Reception and criticism[edit]

Hoaxes and fake news[edit]

Mob murders in India[edit]

In July 2018, WhatsApp encouraged people to report fraudulent or inciting messages after lynch mobs in India murdered innocent people because of malicious WhatsApp messages falsely accusing the victims of intending to abduct children.[166]

2018 elections in Brazil[edit]

In an investigation on the use of social media in politics, it was found that WhatsApp was being abused for the spread of fake news in the 2018 presidential elections in Brazil.[167] Furthermore, it has been reported that US$3 million has been spent in illegal off-the-books contributions related to this practice.[168]

Researchers and journalists have called on WhatsApp parent company, Facebook, to adopt measures similar to those adopted in India and restrict the spread of hoaxes and fake news.[167]

Security and privacy[edit]

WhatsApp was initially criticized for its lack of encryption, sending information as plaintext.[169] Encryption was first added in May 2012.[170][171][172]

In 2016, WhatsApp was widely praised for the addition of end-to-end encryption and earned a 6 out of 7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Secure Messaging Scorecard”.[173] WhatsApp was criticized by security researchers and the Electronic Frontier Foundation for using backups that are not covered by end-to-end encryption and allow messages to be accessed by third-parties.[174][175]

In May 2019, a security vulnerability in WhatsApp was found and fixed that allowed a remote person to install spyware by making a call which did not need to be answered.[176][177]

In September 2019, WhatsApp was criticized for its implementation of a ‘delete for everyone’ feature. iOS users can elect to save media to their camera roll automatically. When a user deletes media for everyone, WhatsApp does not delete images saved in the iOS camera roll and so those users are able to keep the images. WhatsApp released a statement saying that “the feature is working properly,” and that images stored in the camera roll cannot be deleted due to Apple’s security layers.[178]

In November 2019, WhatsApp released a new privacy feature that let users decide who adds them to the group.[179]

On December 17, 2019, WhatsApp fixed a security flaw that allowed cyber attackers to repeatedly crash the messaging application for all members of group chat, which could only be fixed by forcing the complete uninstall and reinstall of the app.

The bug was discovered in August 2019 and reported to WhatsApp, whose developers fixed the bug in the update for version 2.19.246 and onwards.[180][181]

NHS

In 2018 it was reported that around 500,000 NHS staff used WhatsApp and other instant messaging systems at work and around 29,000 had faced disciplinary action for doing so. Higher usage was reported by frontline clinical staff to keep up with care needs, even though NHS trust policies do not permit their use.[182]

Mods and Fake versions

In March 2019, WhatsApp released a guide for users that had installed unofficial modified versions of WhatsApp and warned against data loss in case users persisted in using the same as it considered banning such users.[183]

NSO Group

In October 2019, WhatsApp launched an unprecedented lawsuit against an Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, accusing that it was behind the highly sophisticated cyber attacks on over 100 human rights activists, journalists, lawyers and academics. WhatsApp also claimed that the firm violated American law in an “unmistakable pattern of abuse”.[184]

Terrorism[edit]

In December 2015, it was reported that Islamic State terrorists had been using WhatsApp to plot the November 2015 Paris attacks.[185] ISIS also uses WhatsApp to traffic sex slaves.[186]

In March 2017, U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said encryption capabilities of messaging tools like WhatsApp are unacceptable, as news reported that Khalid Masood used the application several minutes before perpetrating the 2017 Westminster attack. Rudd publicly called for police and intelligence agencies to be given access to WhatsApp and other encrypted messaging services to prevent future terror attacks.[187]

In April 2017, the perpetrator of the Stockholm attack reportedly used WhatsApp to exchange messages with an ISIS supporter shortly before and after the 2017 Stockholm attack. The messages involved discussing how to make an explosive device and a confession of the perpetration after the attack.[188]

Scams and malware[edit]

It has been asserted that WhatsApp is plagued by scams that invite hackers to spread malicious viruses or malware.[189][190] In May 2016, some WhatsApp users were reported to have been tricked into downloading a third-party application called WhatsApp Gold, which was part of a scam that infected the users’ phones with malware.[191] A message that promises to allow access to their WhatsApp friends’ conversations, or their contact lists, has become the most popular hit against anyone who uses the application in Brazil. Since December 2016, more than 1.5 million people have clicked and lost money.[192]

Another application called GB Whatsapp is considered malicious by cybersecurity firm Symantec because it usually performs some unauthorized operations on end-user devices.[193]

Bans[edit]

China[edit]

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, whose main social media service has been blocked in China since 2009.[194] In September 2017, security researchers reported to The New York Times that the WhatsApp service had been completely blocked in China.[195]

According to Time, Sarsenbek Akaruli, 45, a veterinarian and trader from Ili, Xinjiang, was arrested in Xinjiang on Nov. 2, 2017. As of November 2019, he is still in a detention camp. According to his wife Gulnur Kosdaulet, Akaruli was put in the camp after police found the banned messaging app WhatsApp on his cell phone. Kosdaulet, a citizen of neighboring Kazakhstan, has traveled to Xinjiang on four occasions to search for her husband but could not get help from friends in the Communist Party of China. Kosdaulet said of her friends, “Nobody wanted to risk being recorded on security cameras talking to me in case they ended up in the camps themselves.”[196]

Iran[edit]

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 country’s Committee on Internet Crimes. Subsequently, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani issued an order to the Ministry of ICT to stop filtering WhatsApp.[197][198]

Turkey[edit]

Turkey temporarily banned WhatsApp in 2016, following the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.[199]

Brazil[edit]

On March 1, 2016, Diego Dzodan, Facebook’s vice-president for Latin America was arrested in Brazil for not cooperating with an investigation in which WhatsApp conversations were requested.[200] On March 2, 2016, at dawn the next day, Dzodan was released because the Court of Appeal held that the arrest was disproportionate and unreasonable.[201]

On May 2, 2016, mobile providers in Brazil were ordered to block WhatsApp for 72 hours for the service’s second failure to cooperate with criminal court orders.[202][203] Once again, the block was lifted following an appeal, after nearly 24 hours.[204]

Sri Lanka[edit]

WhatsApp, one of the most activated messaging apps along with other social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram were temporarily blocked, banned and had been unavailable for about two days (March 7–8, 2018) in certain parts of the country to eradicate communal violence, especially the anti-Muslim riots.[205] This was probably the first such instance where social media platforms had been banned in Sri Lanka. The ban was finally lifted on March 14, 2018 around midnight time in Sri Lanka.[206]

Uganda[edit]

The government of Uganda banned WhatsApp and Facebook, along with other social media platforms, to enforce a tax on the use of social media.[207] Users are to be charged 200 shilling per day to access these services according to the new law set by parliament.[208]

User statistics[edit]

WhatsApp handled ten billion messages per day in August 2012,[209] growing from two billion in April 2012,[210] and one billion the previous October.[211] On June 13, 2013, WhatsApp announced that they had reached their new daily record by processing 27 billion messages.[212] According to the Financial Times, WhatsApp “has done to SMS on mobile phones what Skype did to international calling on landlines.”[213]

As of April 22, 2014, WhatsApp had over 500 million monthly active users, 700 million photos and 100 million videos were being shared daily, and the messaging system was handling more than 10 billion messages each day.[214][215]

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.[70][216] With 65 million active users representing 10% of the total worldwide users, India has the largest number of consumers.[217]

In May 2017, it was reported that WhatsApp users spend over 340 million minutes on video calls each day on the app. This is the equivalent of roughly 646 years of video calls per day.[218]

As of February 2017, WhatsApp had over 1.2 billion users globally,[219] reaching 1.5 billion monthly active users by the end of 2017.[220]

On January 2020, WhatsApp registers over 5 billion installs on Google Play Store making it only the second non-Google app to achieve this milestone. [221]

Specific markets[edit]

India is by far WhatsApp’s largest market in terms of total number of users. In May 2014, WhatsApp crossed 50 million monthly active users in India, which is also its largest country by the number of monthly active users,[222] then 70 million in October 2014, making users in India 10% of WhatsApp’s total user base.[223] In February 2017, WhatsApp reached 200 million monthly active users in India.[224]

Israel is one of WhatsApp’s strongest markets in terms of ubiquitous usage. According to Globes, already by 2013 the application was installed on 92% of all smartphones, with 86% of users reporting daily use.[225] WhatsApp’s group chat feature is reportedly used by many Israeli families to stay in contact with each other.[226]

Competition[edit]

WhatsApp competes with a number of messaging services. Those, as of 2019, were services like iMessage (estimated 1.3 billion active users[227]), WeChat (1 billion active users[228]), Viber (260 million active users[229]), Telegram (200 million users[230]) and LINE (187 million active users[231]). Telegram in particular was reported to get registration spikes during WhatsApp outages and controversies.[232][233][234]

WhatsApp has increasingly drawn its innovation from competing services,[235] such as a Telegram-inspired web version[236] and features for groups.[237] In 2016, WhatsApp was accused of copying features from a then-unreleased version of iMessage.[238]

Facebook (FB) is an American online social media and social networking service based in Menlo Park, California and a flagship service of the namesake company Facebook, Inc. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo SaverinAndrew McCollumDustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.

The founders initially limited the website’s membership to Harvard students and subsequently ColumbiaStanford, and Yale students. Membership was eventually expanded to the remaining Ivy League schools, MIT, and higher education institutions in the Boston area, then various other universities, and lastly high school students. Since 2006, anyone who claims to be at least 13 years old has been allowed to become a registered user of Facebook, though this may vary depending on local laws. The name comes from the face book directories often given to American university students.

The Facebook service can be accessed from devices with Internet connectivity, such as personal computerstablets and smartphones. After registering, users can create a customized profile revealing information about themselves. They can post text, photos and multimedia which is shared with any other users that have agreed to be their “friend”, or, with a different privacy setting, with any reader. Users can also use various embedded apps, join common-interest groups, buy and sell items or services on Marketplace, and receive notifications of their Facebook friends’ activities and activities of Facebook pages they follow. Facebook claimed that it had more than 2.3 billion monthly active users as of December 2018.[8] However, it faces a big problem of fake accounts. It caught 3 billion fake accounts in the last quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.[9] Many critics questioned whether Facebook knows how many actual users it has.[9][10][11]

It receives prominent media coverage, including many controversies. These often involve user privacy (as with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal), political manipulation (as with the 2016 U.S. elections), psychological effects such as addiction and low self-esteem, and content that some users find objectionable, including fake newsconspiracy theories, and copyright infringement.[12] Commentators have accused Facebook of helping to spread false information and fake news.[13][14][15][16] In 2017, Facebook partnered with fact checkers from the Poynter Institute‘s International Fact-Checking Network to identify and mark false content, though most ads from political candidates are exempt from this program.[17][18] Critics of the program accuse Facebook of not doing enough to remove false information from its website.[19] Facebook is the most downloaded mobile app of the decade from 2010 to 2019 globally.[20]

2003–2006: Thefacebook, Thiel investment, and name change

Zuckerberg built a website called “Facemash” in 2003 while attending Harvard University. The site was comparable to Hot or Not and used “photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the “hotter” person”.[21] Facemash attracted 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views in its first four hours.[22] The site was sent to several campus group list-servers, but was shut down a few days later by Harvard administration. Zuckerberg faced expulsion and was charged with breaching security, violating copyrights and violating individual privacy. Ultimately, the charges were dropped.[21] Zuckerberg expanded on this project that semester by creating a social study tool ahead of an art history final exam. He uploaded all art images to a website, each of which was accompanied by a comments section, then shared the site with his classmates.[23]

 

Original layout and name of Thefacebook in 2004, showing actor Al Pacino‘s face superimposed with binary numbers as Facebook’s original logo, designed by co-founder Andrew McCollum[24]

A “face book” is a student directory featuring photos and personal information.[22] In 2003, Harvard had only a paper version[25] along with private online directories.[21][26] Zuckerberg told the Crimson, “Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard. … I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.”[26] In January 2004, Zuckerberg coded a new website, known as “TheFacebook”, inspired by a Crimson editorial about Facemash, stating, “It is clear that the technology needed to create a centralized Website is readily available … the benefits are many.” Zuckerberg met with Harvard student Eduardo Saverin, and each of them agreed to invest $1,000 in the site.[27] On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched “TheFacebook”, originally located at thefacebook.com.[28]

Six days after the site launched, Harvard seniors Cameron WinklevossTyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing that he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com. They claimed that he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product.[29] The three complained to the Crimson and the newspaper began an investigation. They later sued Zuckerberg, settling in 2008[30] for 1.2 million shares (worth $300 million at Facebook’s IPO).[31]

Membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard College. Within a month, more than half the undergraduates had registered.[32] Dustin MoskovitzAndrew McCollum, and Chris Hughes joined Zuckerberg to help manage the growth of the website.[33] In March 2004, Facebook expanded to ColumbiaStanford and Yale.[34] It then became available to all Ivy League colleges, Boston UniversityNew York UniversityMIT, and successively most universities in the United States and Canada.[35][36]

In mid-2004, Napster co-founder and entrepreneur Sean Parker—an informal advisor to Zuckerberg—became company president.[37] In June 2004, the company moved to Palo Alto, California.[38] It received its first investment later that month from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.[39] In 2005, the company dropped “the” from its name after purchasing the domain name Facebook.com for US$200,000.[40] The domain had belonged to AboutFace Corporation.

 

Mark Zuckerberg, co-creator of Facebook, in his Harvard dorm room, 2005

In May 2005, Accel Partners invested $12.7 million in Facebook, and Jim Breyer[41] added $1 million of his own money. A high-school version of the site launched in September 2005.[42] Eligibility expanded to include employees of several companies, including Apple Inc. and Microsoft.[43]

2006–2012: Public access, Microsoft alliance, and rapid growth

In May 2006, Facebook hired its first intern, Julie Zhuo.[44] After a month, Zhuo was hired as a full-time engineer.[44] On September 26, 2006, Facebook opened to everyone at least 13 years old with a valid email address.[45][46][47] By late 2007, Facebook had 100,000 pages on which companies promoted themselves.[48] Organization pages began rolling out in May 2009.[49] On October 24, 2007, Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a total implied value of around $15 billion. Microsoft’s purchase included rights to place international advertisements.[50][51]

In October 2008, Facebook announced that its international headquarters would locate in Dublin, Ireland.[52] In September 2009, Facebook said that it had achieved positive cash flow for the first time.[53] A January 2009 Compete.com study ranked Facebook the most used social networking service by worldwide monthly active users.[54]

The company announced 500 million users in July 2010.[55] Half of the site’s membership used Facebook daily, for an average of 34 minutes, while 150 million users accessed the site from mobile devices. A company representative called the milestone a “quiet revolution.”[56] In November 2010, based on SecondMarket Inc. (an exchange for privately held companies’ shares), Facebook’s value was $41 billion. The company had slightly surpassed eBay to become the third largest American web company after Google and Amazon.com.[57][58]

On November 15, 2010, Facebook announced it had acquired the domain name fb.com from the American Farm Bureau Federation for an undisclosed amount. On January 11, 2011, the Farm Bureau disclosed $8.5 million in “domain sales income”, making the acquisition of FB.com one of the ten highest domain sales in history.[59]

In February 2011, Facebook announced plans to move its headquarters to the former Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park, California.[60][61] In March 2011, it was reported that Facebook was removing about 20,000 profiles daily for violations such as spam, graphic content and underage use, as part of its efforts to boost cyber security.[62] Statistics showed that Facebook reached one trillion page views in the month of June 2011, making it the most visited website tracked by DoubleClick.[63][64] According to a Nielsen study, Facebook had in 2011 become the second-most accessed website in the U.S. behind Google.[65][66]

China blocked Facebook in 2009.[67]

2012–2013: IPO, lawsuits, and one-billionth user

In March 2012, Facebook announced App Center, a store selling applications that operate via the website. The store was to be available on iPhonesAndroid devices, and mobile web users.[68]

 

Billboard on the Thomson Reuters building welcomes Facebook to NASDAQ, May 2012

Facebook’s initial public offering came on May 17, 2012, at a share price of US$38. The company was valued at $104 billion, the largest valuation to that date.[69][70][71] The IPO raised $16 billion, the third-largest in U.S. history, after Visa Inc. in 2008 and AT&T Wireless in 2000.[72][73] Based on its 2012 income of $5 billion, Facebook joined the Fortune 500 list for the first time in May 2013, ranked 462.[74] The shares set a first day record for trading volume of an IPO (460 million shares).[75] The IPO was controversial given the immediate price declines that followed,[76][76][77][78][79] and was the subject of lawsuits,[80] while SEC and FINRA both launched investigations.[81]

Zuckerberg announced at the start of October 2012 that Facebook had one billion monthly active users,[82] including 600 million mobile users, 219 billion photo uploads and 140 billion friend connections.[83]

2013–2014: Site developments, A4AI, and 10th anniversary

On January 15, 2013, Facebook announced Facebook Graph Search, which provides users with a “precise answer”, rather than a link to an answer by leveraging data present on its site.[84] Facebook emphasized that the feature would be “privacy-aware”, returning results only from content already shared with the user.[85] On April 3, 2013, Facebook unveiled Facebook Home, a user-interface layer for Android devices offering greater integration with the site. HTC announced HTC First, a phone with Home pre-loaded.[86]

On April 15, 2013, Facebook announced an alliance across 19 states with the National Association of Attorneys General, to provide teenagers and parents with information on tools to manage social networking profiles.[87] On April 19 Facebook modified its logo to remove the faint blue line at the bottom of the “F” icon. The letter F moved closer to the edge of the box.[88]

Following a campaign by 100 advocacy groups, Facebook agreed to update its policy on hate speech. The campaign highlighted content promoting domestic violence and sexual violence against women and led 15 advertisers to withdrawal, including Nissan UK, House of Burlesque and Nationwide UK. The company initially stated, “while it may be vulgar and offensive, distasteful content on its own does not violate our policies”.[89] It took action on May 29.[90]

On June 12, Facebook announced that it was introducing clickable hashtags to help users follow trending discussions, or search what others are talking about on a topic.[91] San Mateo County, California, became the top wage-earning county in the country after the fourth quarter of 2012 because of Facebook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary was 107% higher than the previous year, at $168,000 a year, more than 50% higher than the next-highest county, New York County (better known as Manhattan), at roughly $110,000 a year.[92]

Facebook joined Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) in October, as it launched. The A4AI is a coalition of public and private organizations that includes GoogleIntel and Microsoft. Led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the A4AI seeks to make Internet access more affordable to ease access in the developing world.[93]

The company celebrated its 10th anniversary during the week of February 3, 2014.[94] In January 2014, over one billion users connected via a mobile device.[95] As of June, mobile accounted for 62% of advertising revenue, an increase of 21% from the previous year.[96] By September Facebook’s market capitalization had exceeded $200 billion.[97][98][99]

Zuckerberg participated in a Q&A session at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, on October 23, where he attempted to converse in Mandarin. Zuckerberg hosted visiting Chinese politician Lu Wei, known as the “Internet czar” for his influence in China’s online policy, on December 8.

2015–present: Improvement; fake news, and other external misusage

As of January 21, 2015, Facebook’s algorithm was revised in an attempt to filter out false or misleading content, such as fake news stories and hoaxes. It relied on users who flag a story accordingly. Facebook maintained that satirical content should not be intercepted.[100] The algorithm was accused of maintaining a “filter bubble“, where material the user disagrees with[101] and posts with few likes would be deprioritized.[102] In November, Facebook extended paternity leave from 4 weeks to 4 months.[103]

On April 12, 2016, Zuckerberg outlined his 10-year vision, which rested on three main pillars: artificial intelligence, increased global connectivity and virtual/augmented reality.[104] In June, Facebook announced Deep Text, a natural language processing AI that learns user intent and context in 20 languages.[105] In July, a US$1 billion suit was filed against the company alleging that it permitted Hamas to use it to perform assaults that cost the lives of four people.[106] Facebook released its blueprints of Surround 360 camera on GitHub under an open-source license.[107] In September, it won an Emmy for its animated short “Henry”.[108] In October, Facebook announced a fee-based communications tool called Workplace that aims to “connect everyone” at work. Users can create profiles, see updates from co-workers on their news feed, stream live videos and participate in secure group chats.[109]

Following the 2016 presidential election, Facebook announced that it would combat fake news by using fact-checkers from sites like FactCheck.org and Associated Press (AP), making reporting hoaxes easier through crowdsourcing, and disrupting financial incentives for abusers.[110]

 

Oculus VR headset[111]

On January 17, 2017, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg planned to open Station F, a startup incubator campus in Paris, France.[112] On a six-month cycle, Facebook committed to work with ten to 15 data-driven startups there.[113] On April 18, Facebook announced the beta launch of Facebook Spaces at its annual F8 developer conference.[114] Facebook Spaces is a virtual reality version of Facebook for Oculus VR goggles. In a virtual and shared space, users can access a curated selection of 360-degree photos and videos using their avatar, with the support of the controller. Users can access their own photos and videos, along with media shared on their newsfeed.[115] In September, Facebook announced it would spend up to US$1 billion on original shows for its Facebook Watch platform.[116] On October 16, it acquired the anonymous compliment app tbh, announcing its intention to leave the app independent.[117][118][119][120]

In May 2018 at F8, the company announced it would offer its own dating service. Shares in competitor Match Group fell by 22%.[121] Facebook Dating includes privacy features and friends are unable to view their friends’ dating profile.[122] In July, Facebook was charged £500,000 by UK watchdogs for failing to respond to data erasure requests.[123] On July 18, Facebook established a subsidiary named Lianshu Science & Technology in Hangzhou City, China, with $30 million of capital. All its shares are held by Facebook Hong.[124] Approval of the registration of the subsidiary was then withdrawn, due to a disagreement between officials in Zhejiang province and the Cyberspace Administration of China.[125] On July 26, Facebook became the first company to lose over $100 billion worth of market capitalization in one day, dropping from nearly $630 billion to $510 billion after disappointing sales reports.[126][127] On July 31, Facebook said that the company had deleted 17 accounts related to the 2018 American elections. On September 19, Facebook announced that, for news distribution outside the United States, it would work with U.S. funded democracy promotion organizations, International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, which are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic parties.[128] Through the Digital Forensic Research Lab Facebook partners with the Atlantic Council, a NATO-affiliated think tank.[128] In November, Facebook launched smart displays branded Portal and Portal Plus (Portal+). They support Amazon‘s Alexa (intelligent personal assistant service). The devices include video chat function with Facebook Messenger.[129][130]

In January 2019, the 10 year challenge was started[131] asking users to post a photograph of themselves from 10 years ago (2009) and a more recent photo.[132]

Criticized for its role in vaccine hesitancy, Facebook announced in March 2019 that it would provide users with “authoritative information” on the topic of vaccines.[133] A study in the journal Vaccine[134] of advertisements posted in the three months prior to that found that 54% of the anti-vaccine advertisements on Facebook were placed by just two organisations funded by well-known anti-vaccination activists.[135] The Children’s Health Defense / World Mercury Project chaired by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Stop Mandatory Vaccinations, run by campaigner Larry Cook, posted 54% of the advertisements. The ads often linked to commercial products, such as natural remedies and books.

On March 14, Huffington Post reported that Facebook’s PR agency had paid someone to tweak Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Wikipedia page, as well as adding a page for the global head of PR, Caryn Marooney.[136]

In March 2019, the perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand used Facebook to stream live footage of the attack as it unfolded. Facebook took 29 minutes to detect the livestreamed video, which was eight minutes longer than it took police to arrest the gunman. About 1.3m copies of the video were blocked from Facebook but 300,000 copies were published and shared. Facebook has promised changes to its platform; spokesman Simon Dilner told Radio New Zealand that it could have done a better job. Several companies, including the ANZ and ASB banks, have stopped advertising on Facebook after the company was widely condemned by the public.[137] Following the attack, Facebook began blocking white nationalistwhite supremacist, and white separatist content, saying that they could not be meaningfully separated. Previously, Facebook had only blocked overtly supremacist content. The older policy had been condemned by civil rights groups, who described these movements as functionally indistinct.[138][139] Further bans were made in mid-April 2019, banning several British far-right organizations and associated individuals from Facebook, and also banning praise or support for them.[140][141]

NTJ‘s member Moulavi Zahran Hashim, a radical Islamist imam believed to be the mastermind behind the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings, preached on a pro-ISIL Facebook account, known as “Al-Ghuraba” media.[142][143]

On May 2, 2019 at F8, the company announced its new vision with the tagline “the future is private”.[144] A redesign of the website and mobile app was introduced, dubbed as “FB5”.[145] The event also featured plans for improving groups,[146] a dating platform,[147] end-to-end encryption on its platforms,[148] and allowing users on Messenger to communicate directly with WhatsApp and Instagram users.[149][150]

On July 31, 2019, Facebook announced a partnership with University of California, San Francisco to build a non-invasive, wearable device that lets people type by simply imagining themselves talking.[151]

On September 5, 2019, Facebook launched Facebook Dating in the United States. This new application allows users to integrate their Instagram posts in their dating profile.[152]

Facebook News, which features selected stories from news organizations, was launched on October 25.[153] Facebook’s decision to include far-right website Breitbart News as a “trusted source” was negatively received.[154][155]

On November 17, 2019, the banking data for 29,000 Facebook employees was stolen from a payroll worker’s car. The data was stored on unencrypted hard drives and included bank account numbers, employee names, the last four digits of their social security numbers, salaries, bonuses, and equity details. The company didn’t realize the hard drives were missing until November 20. Facebook confirmed that the drives contained employee information on November 29. Employees weren’t notified of the break-in until December 13, 2019.[156]

Website

 

Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005

 

Previous Facebook logo in use from August 23, 2005 until July 1, 2015

Technical aspects

The website’s primary color is blue as Zuckerberg is red–green colorblind, a realization that occurred after a test undertaken around 2007[157][158] Facebook is built in PHP, compiled with HipHop for PHP, a “source code transformer” built by Facebook engineers that turns PHP into C++.[159] The deployment of HipHop reportedly reduced average CPU consumption on Facebook servers by 50%.[160]

2012 architecture

Facebook is developed as one monolithic application. According to an interview in 2012 with Chuck Rossi, a build engineer at Facebook, Facebook compiles into a 1.5 GB binary blob which is then distributed to the servers using a custom BitTorrent-based release system. Rossi stated that it takes about 15 minutes to build and 15 minutes to release to the servers. The build and release process has zero downtime. Changes to Facebook are rolled out daily.[160]

Facebook used a combination platform based on HBase to store data across distributed machines. Using a tailing architecture, events are stored in log files, and the logs are tailed. The system rolls these events up and writes them to storage. The user interface then pulls the data out and displays it to users. Facebook handles requests as AJAX behavior. These requests are written to a log file using Scribe (developed by Facebook).[161]

Data is read from these log files using Ptail, an internally built tool to aggregate data from multiple Scribe stores. It tails the log files and pulls data out. Ptail data are separated into three streams and sent to clusters in different data centers (Plugin impression, News feed impressions, Actions (plugin + news feed)). Puma is used to manage periods of high data flow (Input/Output or IO). Data is processed in batches to lessen the number of times needed to read and write under high demand periods (A hot article generates many impressions and news feed impressions that cause huge data skews). Batches are taken every 1.5 seconds, limited by memory used when creating a hash table.[161]

Data is then output in PHP format. The backend is written in Java. Thrift is used as the messaging format so PHP programs can query Java services. Caching solutions display pages more quickly. The data is then sent to MapReduce servers where it is queried via Hive. This serves as a backup as the data can be recovered from Hive.[161]

Hack

On March 20, 2014, Facebook announced a new open-source programming language called Hack. Before public release, a large portion of Facebook was already running and “battle tested” using the new language.[162]

History

On July 20, 2008, Facebook introduced “Facebook Beta”, a significant redesign of its user interface on selected networks. The Mini-Feed and Wall were consolidated, profiles were separated into tabbed sections, and an effort was made to create a cleaner look.[163] Facebook began migrating users to the new version in September 2008.[164]

User profile/personal timeline

 

Facebook login/signup screen

Each registered user on Facebook has a personal profile that shows their posts and content.[165] The format of individual user pages was revamped in September 2011 and became known as “Timeline”, a chronological feed of a user’s stories,[166][167] including status updates, photos, interactions with apps and events.[168] The layout let users add a “cover photo”.[168] Users were given more privacy settings.[168] In 2007, Facebook launched Facebook Pages for brands and celebrities to interact with their fanbase.[169][170] 100,000 Pages launched in November.[171] In June 2009, Facebook introduced a “Usernames” feature, allowing users to choose a unique nickname used in the URL for their personal profile, for easier sharing.[172][173]

In February 2014, Facebook expanded the gender setting, adding a custom input field that allows users to choose from a wide range of gender identities. Users can also set which set of gender-specific pronoun should be used in reference to them throughout the site.[174][175][176] In May 2014, Facebook introduced a feature to allow users to ask for information not disclosed by other users on their profiles. If a user does not provide key information, such as location, hometown, or relationship status, other users can use a new “ask” button to send a message asking about that item to the user in a single click.[177][178]

News Feed

News Feed appears on every user’s homepage and highlights information including profile changes, upcoming events and friends’ birthdays.[179] This enabled spammers and other users to manipulate these features by creating illegitimate events or posting fake birthdays to attract attention to their profile or cause.[180] Initially, the News Feed caused dissatisfaction among Facebook users; some complained it was too cluttered and full of undesired information, others were concerned that it made it too easy for others to track individual activities (such as relationship status changes, events, and conversations with other users).[181] Zuckerberg apologized for the site’s failure to include appropriate privacy features. Users then gained control over what types of information are shared automatically with friends. Users are now able to prevent user-set categories of friends from seeing updates about certain types of activities, including profile changes, Wall posts and newly added friends.[182]

On February 23, 2010, Facebook was granted a patent[183] on certain aspects of its News Feed. The patent covers News Feeds in which links are provided so that one user can participate in the activity of another user.[184] The sorting and display of stories in a user’s News Feed is governed by the EdgeRank algorithm.[185]

The Photos application allows users to upload albums and photos.[186] Each album can contain 200 photos.[187] Privacy settings apply to individual albums. Users can “tag“, or label, friends in a photo. The friend receives a notification about the tag with a link to the photo.[188] This photo tagging feature was developed by Aaron Sittig, now a Design Strategy Lead at Facebook, and former Facebook engineer Scott Marlette back in 2006 and was only granted a patent in 2011.[189][190]

On June 7, 2012, Facebook launched its App Center to help users find games and other applications.[191]

On May 13, 2015, Facebook in association with major news portals launched “Instant Articles” to provide news on the Facebook news feed without leaving the site.[192][193]

In January 2017, Facebook launched Facebook Stories for iOS and Android in Ireland. The feature, following the format of Snapchat and Instagram stories, allows users to upload photos and videos that appear above friends’ and followers’ News Feeds and disappear after 24 hours.[194]

On October 11, 2017, Facebook introduced the 3D Posts feature to allow for uploading interactive 3D assets.[195] On January 11, 2018, Facebook announced that it would change News Feed to prioritize friends/family content and de-emphasize content from media companies.[196]

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