WhatsApp Founder Walks Out on Facebook

WhatsApp Founder Walks Out on Facebook
Jan Koum is understood to be leaving Facebook because of its plans to harvest WhatsApp data.

(CCM) — Jan Koum, WhatsApp's billionaire chief executive, is to leave Facebook because he disagrees with Facebook's plans to use personal data from WhatsApp and to weaken the messaging app's encryption, according to a Washington Post report.

Koum and co-founder Brian Acton promised to preserve the independence and protection of WhatsApp users' data when they sold the app to Facebook for $19 billion in 2014. This was underlined when they introduced encryption to protect message contents in 2016. They have also resisted Facebook projects to commercialize WhatsApp, which carries no advertisements, including a plan to gain access to WhatsApp users' phone numbers.

"Part of Facebook’s success has been to digest acquisitions, successfully monetize them, and integrate them into their advertising machine,” Daniel Ives, research firm GBH Insights' chief strategy officer and head of technology research, said in the report. But he explained that so far Facebook has been unable to do this due to the opposition of the founders. “This was a massive culture clash,” he added.

Kou and Acton wrote in a blog post in 2012 that online advertising such as that carried out by Facebook is "a disruption to aesthetics, an insult to your intelligence, and the interruption of your train of thought." But with Koum leaving and Acton having left in 2017, the time may now be right for Facebook to attempt to cash in on its investment by targeting the 1.5 billion people around the world who use WhatsApp every month.

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