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Facebook on Monday rolled out a WhatsApp update that could threaten Snapchat’s share of the mobile app messaging market.

The update allows WhatsApp users to share photos and videos through the app’s status area. Moreover, like WhatsApp text messages, content shared through status updates is protected by end-to-end encryption.

End-to-end encryption is a key distinction between WhatsApp and its competitors, noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“That’s an important point for people sharing private messages with individuals and groups, and is one reason for WhatsApp’s widespread global success,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Photos, GIFs and videos can be overlaid with drawings, emojis and a caption, and now can be shared via status for 24 hours before disappearing.

The change in the app is a fundamental one. WhatsApp previously had been exclusively for texting. Now its users will be able to scroll through rich content.


The status upgrade won’t replace the way a user’s status is displayed by name in the app. A tab with a plus sign will be added to the interface. Tapping the plus sign will take you to the WhatsApp camera, and tapping that will take you to the rich content posted by your friends and family.

Could Bury Snapchat

This latest update of WhatsApp is another example of Facebook playing catchup with Snapchat, as it did last summer when it introduced Instagram Stories, a shameless knockoff of Snapchat’s Stories feature, introduced in 2013.

“This is not only Facebook playing catchup with Snapchat, but probably burying Snapchat,” said John Carroll, a mass communications professor at