Popular messaging app WhatsApp has stopped operating on millions of users’ phones this month.
WhatsApp has said that its app will no longer work on Android devices and iPhones that use outdated operating systems.
The move means potentially millions of its users can no longer send and receive messages, make video calls, or get photos and videos from friends.
Which phones are affected?
Anyone with an Android smartphone that uses the Android 2.3.7 operating system and older will notice that their WhatsApp no longer functions.
And Apple customers with iPhones that operate on the iOS 8 system or older, face the same issue.
If your phone is too old to run a more recent operating system, WhatsApp will no longer run on it. Other users will simply be able to update their phone’s operating system to continue using the messaging service.
Why has WhatsApp done this?
The company, which is owned by Facebook, told customers that the move was needed to protect its users’ security.
It first warned customers that it would need to make the changes back in 2017.
A spokesperson for WhatsApp said, “This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp.”
This is not the first time that the messaging app has had to cut off users for the sake of security.
In 2016 it withdrew support for a string of older Android and iOS operating systems, citing security risks associated with outdated software.
And on 31 December 2019, it pulled its app completely from all Windows phones.
What is WhatsApp?
First released in 2009, WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion users across the globe, and has cemented itself as the most popular messaging app in the world.
The company markets itself on the security of its messaging service, using an end-to-end encryption technique to protect the privacy of its users’ conversations.
Initially conceived by Brian Acton and Jan Koum - two former employees of Yahoo! - WhatsApp was designed by Igor Solomennikov, who the pair met through RentACoder.com.
In 2013 the company was valued at $1.5 billion, and had 200 million users after years of exponential growth.
Facebook bought WhatsApp a year later for $19 billion - the single largest purchase of a venture-backed company is history.
The company has faced criticism after several security flaws were detected. According to The New York Times, the app had been used to spread huge amounts of fake news during the 2018 elections in Brazil, which saw the far right politician Jair Bolsonaro win the presidency.