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The Greatest App of All Time Day 17: Instagram vs. WhatsApp

Welcome back to Gizmodo’s March Madness bracket challenge to name the greatest app of all time! Yesterday’s tournament was a bloodbath with Calculator taking more than 87 percent of the vote. Twitch goes home empty-handed. Today, we have the crown jewels of Zuckerberg’s empire going head-to-head.

If you’re just tuning in, you can read all about our selection criteria for this historic contest right here. Check out the full bracket of contestants embedded below. And as always, if you think we missed your personal favorite app of all time, yell at us in the comments. Now, let’s get into today’s contestants.

We’ve now entered the Sweet 16 phase of the tournament and there have been a few surprises. But overall, most of our remaining contestants are very big and popular apps so it’s getting much harder to predict the winner in individual brackets.

Here’s what we said about Instagram in the first round:

In one corner, weighing in at 2.4 billion monthly active users, we have Instagram. The king of photo-sharing apps, Instagram has gone through a hell of an evolution since its debut in 2010 and subsequent acquisition by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta. The all-powerful algorithm is more important than ever, and Reels has become an app inside the app. Video is just as prominent as photos now, Kylie Jenner took a dump on it, and seemingly every week brings fresh allegations that the app is destroying our kids. Nevertheless, Instagram persists.

And here’s what we had to say about WhatsApp:

In this corner, with around 2 billion global users, we have the reigning king of messaging apps. Launched in 2009, WhatsApp started as an altruistic attempt at protecting users’ privacy with a barebones platform that was singularly focused on encryption. But its popularity exploded and the vultures of capital began to circle.

In 2014, Facebook scooped up the platform for a cool $19 billion and it wasn’t long until co-founder Jan Koum publicly admitted he’d sold his soul to the devil and his users’ privacy to Zuckerberg. Brian Acton, the other co-founder, went on to take a senior role at Signal where he hopes to keep the original dream of WhatsApp alive but that app hasn’t been able to get the same kind of foothold.

To be fair to Zuck, WhatsApp hasn’t changed at nearly the same rate as other Facebook acquisitions and it still doesn’t even include ads (they are coming though). In some ways, WhatsApp has achieved the original mission of Facebook: It’s a place for friends.

So, reader, what’ll it be? Are you an extrovert who likes to live your life in public with just a little face-tuning? Or do you prefer to keep your relationships far from prying eyes? Either way, Zuckerberg wins.

Here are the nominees. Choose your fighter.
Graphic: Vicky Leta

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