Saturday, 18 August, 2018

WhatsApp co-founder leaving Facebook

Jan Koum co-founder and CEO of Whats App speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach WhatsApp Cofounder Jan Koum Leaves Facebook Amid Clashes Over Data Privacy
Grady Vargas | 01 May, 2018, 09:31

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, who created the world's biggest messaging app before selling it for $19 billion in 2014, is resigning from Facebook and its board, reportedly over the company's attempts to weaken encryption and collect more detailed information on users. Neither Koum nor Facebook could be reached by press time.

Though the Cambridge Analytica revelations contributed to a climate of broader frustration with Facebook among WhatsApp employees, Koum made his decision to leave prior to the scandal, the people said.

He said he would still be cheering WhatsApp on from the outside.

To attract more advertisers to WhatsApp, there were also discussions about weakening the platform's end-to-end encryption, which essentially prevents anyone, including Facebook or WhatsApp, from reading the contents of messages sent over the service. Only two other Facebook executives - CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg - are members of the board. "Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp", Zuckerberg wrote in a comment on Koum's Facebook post.

Messrs. Koum and Acton had clauses in their contracts with Facebook that allowed an acceleration of their contracts if Facebook added advertising to the app. Mr. Koum's contract with Facebook wasn't supposed to end until November, the person familiar with the matter said.

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In 2016, WhatsApp announced it would start sharing some user data, including phone numbers, with Facebook - a move that was deeply unpopular among European regulators, who ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users and fined the company.

Announcing his departure in a Facebook post, Koum mentions none of the reported issues that apparently prompted him to walk away. One political marketing company, Cambridge Analytica, that was part of Donald Trump's campaign, was given access to the data of 87 million users. Koum and Acton and other Facebook executives, the person said.

"It's not surprising given that Acton joined Signal after leaving Facebook", Jeff Pollard, an analyst at Forrester Research, said at the time.

WhatsApp is the largest messaging service in the world with 1.5 billion monthly users. Over 3 million people are actively using WhatsApp Business app. The founders also clashed with Facebook over building a mobile payments system on WhatsApp in India.

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