Two of WhatsApp's earliest employees have launched a private, ad-free social network

Two of WhatsApp's earliest employees have launched a private, ad-free social network
  • Neeraj Arora and Michael Donohue, two of WhatsApp’s earliest employees, have launched a new private social network.
  • Named the HalloApp, the company promises that it will always be ad-free, algorithm-free and all messages are encrypted by default.
  • HalloApp is available for download from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.
At a time when gaining wide reach on social networks is commonplace, having a private social network might seem contrary to what people want. And yet, two of WhatsApp’s earliest employees have gone ahead and launched just that, a private social network called HalloApp.

HalloApp is now available to download and install on iOS and Android devices. From early impressions, it seems to be a mix of the now-defunct Path app and WhatsApp – HalloApp draws inspiration from Path when it comes to the “private social network” part, and from WhatsApp, when it comes to adding and chatting with friends – the only way you can find people is by having their phone number.

As an added bonus, the app does not have any ads and all messages are encrypted by default.

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The two employees behind the app are Neeraj Arora and Michael Donohue. Both Arora and Donohue were with WhatsApp before and after the Facebook acquisition. While Arora was with the company until 2018, Donohue left in 2019.

Social media has turned into a ‘digital mall’, says Arora


Our social media feeds have become algorithm-driven – this applies to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but more so for the latter two, as Twitter gives an option to switch to a chronological timeline. Even YouTube’s recommended videos are tuned by algorithms, with

“Where you hoped to have meaningful conversations, instead you found yourself falling down the rabbit hole of blinking red notifications and an algorithmic feed of meaningless content,” Arora said in a blog post, highlighting the pitfalls of algorithm-driven feeds.

Getting to know HalloApp

HalloApp’s interface is pretty simple – and by some extent, barebones, right now. The app is divided into three tabs – the Home feed, groups and chats.

The Home feed is where posts from your friends and family show up. Arora describes it as such, taking aim at virtually most of the major social networks out there:

“No ads. No bots. No likes. No trolls. No followers. No algorithms. No influencers. No photo filters. No “feed fatigue.” No misinformation spreading like wildfire.”

He also goes ahead to explain that the company will eventually offer additional features in the app at a small cost.

Groups and chats are self-explanatory. Right now, the chats screen shows the people are who have signed up on HalloApp.

It will be interesting to see if HalloApp gains traction at a time when the Pegasus spyware has been reportedly used with iMessage and WhatsApp as two of the several attack vectors.


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