When Mark Zuckerberg says he wants to “connect the world’s people,” it’s not some gentle, humanist statement. Zuckerberg intends to own the communications layer of the world we live in — if today’s $16-plus billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp is any indication. Facebook grew up inventing the world’s leading social network for sharing with everyone you know, and it now owns what could be called the world’s largest private social network. Between the two companies, about 1 billion photos and 30 billion messages are sent per day.
While Facebook slaved away creating a utility used by 1.25 billion people, WhatsApp has replaced an essential utility for many, SMS. WhatsApp is used by over 450 million people every month, and often in places Facebook and its Messenger app had little success reaching, like Spain and Switzerland. By filling in the gaps with WhatsApp, Facebook’s communication pipes are thicker and spread far wider than ever before. The company commands an enormous portion of the world’s messages and photos sent per day. And don’t forget that WhatsApp users send a whopping 200 million voice messages per day. For many, WhatsApp has likely replaced voice calls as well.