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WhatsApp grows to half a billion users

Adding 50 million active users in two months time, the messaging app is well on its way to reaching a billion people, just as Mark Zuckerberg anticipated.

WhatsApp logo horizontal

Messaging app WhatsApp now reaches 500 million people each month and is growing fastest in Brazil, India, Mexico, and Russia, the company said Tuesday. Collectively, the application's users are sharing 700 million photos and 100 million videos on a daily basis.

WhatsApp is the maker of a 5-year-old mobile messaging app for exchanging texts, photos, and videos. The application is in the process of being purchased by Facebook for around $19 billion in cash and various stock options. Earlier this month, the proposed deal was approved by the Federal Trade Commission, but Facebook still needs to get international regulatory approval before it can complete the purchase.

Though unquestionably a pricey buy, WhatsApp fits in nicely with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's mission to socially colonize the developing world and reach billions more people. At $1 a year, WhatsApp is a cheaper alternative to SMS for those in emerging markets, and appears to be already growing Facebook's total audience beyond the 1.23 billion people using the social network, though it's unclear just how many people use both apps.

Now that WhatsApp has 500 million monthly active users, up from 450 million in February, it seems clear that Zuckerberg is right about one thing: the app is on the path to reach over 1 billion people sooner rather than later.