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WhatsApp boasts it now has 500 million active users

WhatsApp has hit a major milestone in terms of its user base, now having 500 million folks using the messaging service.

Yes, half a billion people are using WhatsApp worldwide, and those are "regular" and "active" users according to a post on the company's blog. Users are apparently sharing some 700 million photos and 100 million videos every day.

The last few months have seen a pretty impressive growth spurt – the messaging service only hit 400 million users just before Christmas, so it has swiftly put another 100 million on in four months (with Facebook's acquisition two months ago doubtless helping in terms of a raised profile).

Since the start of the year, WhatsApp says it has seen the biggest growth in Brazil, India, Mexico, and Russia. Developing markets are key, then – numbers in the US aren't mentioned, but it would be interesting to hear them. Previous to being snapped up by the big social network, WhatsApp was largely unheard of in America – but that certainly isn't the case now.

Indeed, Facebook's purchase doesn't seem to have done the service any harm at all, despite any privacy worries that Zuckerberg's acquisition has prompted for WhatsApp users (the company's previous blog post in March was a defensive one on exactly this issue).