WhatsApp founder leaves company amidst privacy disputes with Facebook

WhatsApp founder leaves company amidst privacy disputes with Facebook

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Facebook shocked the world when they ended up acquiring the popular messaging service WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion back in 2014. This spawned a lot of speculation about why the social network would spend so much to own a free messaging service. The leading concern was about owning, using and/or selling user data. As pressure mounted, Facebook came through and announced they would be protecting this data by partnering with Open Whisper Systems and enabling end-to-end encryption. However, it’s now become known that the co-founder of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, will be parting ways with Facebook as they attempt to use WhatsApp’s personal data and weaken its encryption.

Even with the threat that Facebook would eventually start to use data from WhatsApp users, the messaging service continued to grow. In February 2016 it was revealed that WhatsApp had surpassed 1 billion monthly active users and then in July of 2017 it was announced the service now has over 1 billion daily active users. It was around this time when the company pushed out an updated privacy policy that revealed Facebook had plans on how it could leverage the vast amount of data that it could collect with the service.

During this transition, Facebook got rid of its $0.99 per year fee while the co-founders of WhatsApp continued to protest against an advertising model to bring in revenue. Instead, the company thought a good compromise would be to let businesses create a profile and send messages to their customers. This is the goal of the newly launched WhatsApp Business service, but WhatsApp executives believe doing so would require some weakening of its encryption. However, it seems that Koum has been worn down with clashing opinions and also plans to step down from Facebook’s board of directors.

It’s also being reported that a number of WhatsApp employees are also feeling demoralized in their work environment and currently plan to leave the company in November. That will be the moment the employees will be able to exercise all their stock options under the terms of the Facebook deal. Koum says it’s time for him to move on and focus on other pursuits, “such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee.”

Source: The Washington Post