Is WhatsApp Considered Social Media?

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Written by: Alex Popa


Is WhatsApp Considered Social Media?

WhatsApp is an extremely popular messaging platform. But is it a social media platform like Facebook and Instagram?

Yes, it is, due to the fact that WhatsApp, just like other social platforms, meets certain factors:

  • Identity – What users reveal about themselves
  • Conversations – How users communicate
  • Sharing – How users exchange content between themselves
  • Presence – How users know if other users are available or not
  • Relationships – How users relate to one another
  • Reputation – How users know other users by their social reputation and content
  • Groups – How users can form groups and communities

I’ll go into more details about the foundation of a social media platform, what makes WhatsApp one of them, and what this means for you.

Keep reading 😀

Is WhatsApp Considered Social Media?

What Is Social Media?

Technically, it’s a web-based application on the internet that lets users create, access, and exchange content with one another.

This is what social media is, in a nutshell. And WhatsApp falls under every category mentioned above.

You can send messages, pictures, videos, GIFs, and links to other people. You can also share content from the web on WhatsApp.

You can even create videos and share them on WhatsApp.

According to a 2011 study, 7 factors make up a social media platform, like I mentioned in the intro:

  • Identity – What users reveal about themselves
  • Conversations – How users communicate
  • Sharing – How users exchange content between themselves
  • Presence – How users know if other users are available or not
  • Relationships – How users relate to one another
  • Reputation – How users know other users by their social reputation and content
  • Groups – How users can form groups and communities

By applying these factors to WhatsApp, we’ll see whether the app is a social media platform, so keep reading!

1. Identity on WhatsApp

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram let users share their identities online. This means sharing your name, occupation, gender, age, education, or hobbies.

WhatsApp only lets you share your name, profile picture, and online status through the interface. It doesn’t go beyond that.

HOWEVER, through messaging, you can choose to reveal other details about yourself.

So, WhatsApp conforms partially to the identity principle of social media (partial enough that it’s more than enough to meet this qualifying factor).

2. Conversations on WhatsApp

WhatsApp was originally designed as a texting app. So, in this category, it rises above other social media platforms.

You can have private conversations or form groups of people on WhatsApp. The app even lets you call other people through the in-built calling feature.

There are no ads and no hidden fees either. WhatsApp texting is free, and anyone can use it at any time.

So, WhatsApp meets this qualifying factor too! 2/7 for now….

3. Sharing on WhatsApp

You can share anything you can think of through WhatsApp – photos, videos, files, archives, links, etc.

You can share your content with a single person or with multiple individuals. The choice is yours. There’s no system for liking or reacting to shared content. So, the shared content tends to be more genuine.

WhatsApp lets you share content with someone, even on a voice call. I’d say that sharing is a core part of any social media platform, and it appears to be essential to WhatsApp.

Another box checked 😀

4. Presence on WhatsApp

WhatsApp shows the users’ presence on the app by default. It’s the “last seen online” status. You can hide it and freeze the “last seen” status so that people won’t know when you’re online.

Either way, WhatsApp checks the box for “user presence” because you can know when someone is online at any time.

Or how long ago they’ve been online.

The app also lets you post temporary statuses (photos or 30-second videos) that will disappear after 24 hours.

5. Relationships on WhatsApp

This is a controversial topic, but many people argue that WhatsApp is a more engaging social media than Facebook.

It encourages one-on-one relationships and communication. It makes social engagements more up-close personal.

You can make a new friend instantly on WhatsApp. And you can maintain a relationship with someone without too much effort.

Talking, as opposed to liking, is seen as a more active form of participation in social interactions (which is clearly is).

WhatsApp keeps active relationships rather than passive ones!

6. Reputation on WhatsApp

This is where WhatsApp strays from the pack of social media platforms. It doesn’t encourage or enable reputation-building on the platform.

Sure, you can post status updates and share cool stuff with all your friends (only on chats) but it can be time-consuming and complicated.

Plus, there’s no system to react to posts (scratch that, there is one now, as of February 2023).

And if you form groups, you can build a reputation in that group. But WhatsApp doesn’t encourage reputation building that much.

So, I guess it fails this requirement.

7. Groups on WhatsApp

WhatsApp groups are tight-knit communities with a maximum of 256 members.

They’re very active and promote a lot of activity and engagement. In many ways, they’re much more engaging than Facebook groups.

Everything is more personal here, and everyone knows everyone due to how few members are in a group.

There’s a group identity, and everyone participates to building that identity.

People from various WhatsApp groups based on different topics and goals. There are meme groups, gaming groups, and so on.

Or you can form a Workgroup for sharing work documents. Families also include family groups on WhatsApp.

Other people can only get into a WhatsApp group if invited. They can’t find the groups anywhere to join them.

Different Types of Social Media

There isn’t just one type of social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok they’re not identical.

While they use similar principles, they’re not the same. Some use more social features, while others limit themselves to only a few.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not social media platforms all the same.

A social media platform allows users to express their thoughts and feelings to others, and you can totally do that on WhatsApp, even at a small and select scale. The app is more privacy-focused but still allows you to communicate with people.

Social engagement is encouraged but not in a large-scale, passive way like on Facebook. Everything is more personal on WhatsApp. You need to be active to socialize, which makes WhatsApp a great choice!


All in all, WhatsApp appears to be a type of social media platform and not simply a messaging app.

It’s not as complex as Facebook or Twitter, but it allows users to socialize and express themselves through more than words.

You can send images, videos, GIFs, links, and more on WhatsApp.

You can also form groups and earn a social reputation within that group.

Yes, WhatsApp is a social media platform!

Is WhatsApp the best social media?

It depends on what you’re looking for.

If you only want to text other people, then WhatsApp is better.

Send text, pictures, videos, links, emoticons, and GIFs on WhatsApp without stress!

It may not be as advanced as Facebook, but many prefer WhatsApp over other social media platforms.

It could be said that WhatsApp doesn’t cause such an addiction as Facebook or Instagram do.

That’s because WhatsApp doesn’t encourage the dopamine rush type of social engagement that other social media platforms push.

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Alex Popa

My name is Alex and I have a knack for social media in all its shapes and forms. I’ve dealt with such things for quite some time and I noticed that many people have issues with social media and technicalities.

Unforeseen errors, bugs, and other problems make their use of social media problematic. These things will be discussed amply in the guides on Whizcase.

I'll present the facts as they are, and offer quick and easy solutions for them.

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