According to unnamed sources, Facebook has been trying to push WhatsApp into collecting user data and doing away with end to end encryption amongst other things
Merely days after Facebook reported an impressive Q1 2018 and boasted of improved numbers despite the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company now faces a fresh challenge. Jan Koum, CEO and co-founder of Facebook owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp has officially stepped down from his post. If sources are to be believed, Koum recently had ‘arguments with parent company Facebook over data privacy and the messaging app’s business model’ which led to his walking out.
According to trusted sources of The Washington Post, Koum has been at loggerheads with parent company Facebook ever since the company started pushing to use its personal data and eventually weaken its end-to-end encryption. According to these sources, Koum had been considering an exit for quite some time owing to frequent clashes and had even stopped coming to the office as frequently.
Within hours of the report being published, Koum took to his Facebook account and in a very personal post, confirmed the development. However, Koum refrained from mentioning any kind of clashes with Facebook and instead said that he was “taking some time off to do things outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on cars and playing ultimate frisbee.” Parting away on a good note, Koum summed up by promising that he’d still be cheering for WhatsApp ‘from the outside’.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to Koum in a comment saying, “Jan: I will miss working so closely with you. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people’s hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.”
Koum, along with his Yahoo colleague Brian Acton had founded WhatsApp back in 2009. According to The Washington Post’s report, both Acton and Koum were advocates of user privacy. Ever since the company was acquired by Facebook, there have been several attempts made to alter its original business model of providing safe, personal communication to users. According to the publication, Facebook started pushing WhatsApp to change its terms of service to give the social network access to the phone numbers of WhatsApp users. In addition, the social media giant also wanted to access analytics such as what devices and operating systems people were using WhatsApp amongst other things.
When denied, Facebook started venturing out into other WhatsApp features that would generate revenue for the company. Some of these measures include WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Pay, both of which irked the co-founders. WhatsApp’s decision of introducing end-to-end encryption on its platform also didn’t go down well with Facebook.
Following frequent arguments over user privacy concerns, Acton left the company in November 2017 and joined a group of former executives critical of Facebook. He recently advocated the popular #deletefacebook movement that did the rounds on the internet in the wake of Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Following steps of his old friend, Koum’s exit surely comes across as a big jolt to the company and leaves a void that will be extremely hard to fill.
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