WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum has quit Facebook amid disagreements over the company’s approach to data privacy, it has been reported.
Koum, who created the messenger app alongside fellow co-founder Brian Acton in 2009, has clashed with WhatsApp owner Facebook, according to The Washington Post. The social network is said to be keen to weaken WhatsApp’s encryption and monetise the app’s users much more effectively.
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Koum is reportedly unhappy about this, and left the company this week. Announcing his departure in a Facebook update, he said, “It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people. But it is time for me to move on. I’ve been blessed to work with such an incredibly small team and see how a crazy amount of focus can produce an app used by so many people all over the world.”
He continued: “I’m leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined. The team is stronger than ever and it’ll continue to do amazing things. I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee. And I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside. Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible.”
Proving that they haven’t yet #DeletedFacebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg shared their best wishes in the comments.
Zuckerberg’s message was rather pointed, reading: “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.”
A lot of people have lost trust in Facebook over recent months, and the reported manner of Koum’s departure of the firms will inevitably increase speculation about the future of WhatsApp.
Koum and Acton − who urged people to delete their Facebook accounts in March − were always adamant that WhatsApp would remain ad-free, and that users’ data and messages would remain private. With both of them now gone, there will be fears that those things could be about to change.
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