WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum is leaving Facebook over concerns about how the social network giant wants to weaken the messaging app’s encryption and use personal data.
News of Koum’s departure came from sources speaking with the Washington Post, although they didn’t say exactly when he’ll be stepping down from Facebook’s board of directors. He confirmed is plan to leave after the news broke.
Koum and co-founder Brian Acton created WhatsApp as a tool for private and secure messaging across multiple platforms. When Facebook bought the company in 2014, they assured users privacy would remain a core tenant for the app.
Facebook apparently wants to exploit WhatsApp in the same way as its other assets. In essence, Facebook wants to strip away the parts that make WhatsApp what it is today and turn it into another data mining tool.
Facebook, WhatsApp, and Privacy
That makes sense because Facebook is, after all. Facebook. Users are the product and anything that doesn’t fit that business model is a problem.
Acton left Facebook in November and has been a vocal critic of the company’s data collection and privacy policies. Most recently, he was part of the #DeleteFacebook campaign on social media platforms.
The outcry against Facebook was in response to news that Cabridge Anlytica harvested millions of user profiles to use in its presidential campaign strategy for Donald Trump. That also led to Congressional hearings where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testified about his company’s privacy practices.
While selling WhatsApp to Facebook for more than US$19 million may have been too good a deal to pass up, it seem both Koum and Acton discovered a company that plays fast and loose with user privacy isn’t going to leave any of its properties off the table.