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WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton says he had no choice but to sell to Facebook

It’s no secret that WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton has quite a complicated relationship with Facebook, the company he sold his business to for $19 billion in 2014.

It’s not just the above tweet, sent during the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal either. Last September, Acton was even more blunt in an interview with Forbes, saying: “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.

But now in a rare public appearance at his old alma mater, Stanford University, he’s revealed that he didn’t really feel like he had a choice but to sell his baby to Facebook five years ago.

Related: WhatsApp tips and tricks

“You go back to this Silicon Valley culture and people say, ‘Well, could you have not sold?’ and the answer is no,” he said, as quoted by Buzzfeed, adding that it was a “rational choice” to take “a boatload of money.”

“I had 50 employees, and I had to think about them and the money they would make from this sale. I had to think about our investors and I had to think about my minority stake. I didn’t have the full clout to say no if I wanted to,” he said.

But if there was any suggestion of Acton’s view of Facebook softening in general, that was put to rest later on when he repeated his call for the students in the audience to delete Facebook.

Related: How to delete Facebook

“To be brutally honest, the curated networks — the open networks — struggle to decide what’s hate speech and what’s not hate speech… Apple struggles to decide what’s a good app and what’s a bad app. Google struggles with what’s a good website and what’s a bad website. These companies are not equipped to make these decisions.

“And we give them the power. That’s the bad part. We buy their products. We sign up for these websites. Delete Facebook, right?”

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