May 26, 2018

WhatsApp Co-Founder Leaving Facebook's Board Amid User Data Disputes

01 May 2018, 04:57 | Yvette Williams

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits over privacy disagreements with Facebook

WhatsApp founder plans to leave after broad clashes with parent Facebook

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

WhatsApp, a pun on the phrase "What's up?", only stores messages on users' smartphones and not on the company's servers, making the service more private and hard to hack.

Neither Koum nor Facebook were immediately available for comment.

Mr. Koum's exit is the highest-profile departure from Facebook after months of controversy at the social network.

When WhatsApp agreed to the company's sale to Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, it said WhatsApp would remain an independent service and would not share its data with Facebook.

"It's been nearly a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it's been an fantastic journey with some of the best people", Koum, WhatsApp's chief executive, said in a post on his Facebook page referring to co-founder Brian Acton.

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Koum's Monday announcement included a response from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, timestamped 15 minutes after Koum's post. This would apparently require weakening WhatsApp's existing end-to-end encryption-a feature that the company added to its weak-at-the-time encrypted-messaging services in 2016.

WhatsApp is free to users and has long eschewed advertising-the main source of Facebook's business-leaving it with little or no revenue. The report went on to claim that other WhatsApp employees are also "demoralized" and plan to leave in November, when they can exercise all their stock options. "Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp", Zuckerberg wrote in a comment on Koum's Facebook post. The company has been under scrutiny for how Russian agents used it to influence voters before the 2016 presidential election and more recently for its lack of data protections for users, a subject that gained attention after revelations that the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly harvested the information of as many as 87 million Facebook users.

The prospect of introducing advertising amplified tensions between Messrs.

Despite the Post's reporting, Koum portrayed his departure in positive terms.

In March, Mr. Acton appeared to join critics of Facebook's handling of user data, with a message on his Twitter account saying "It is time". Acton left the company previous year and has since become an outspoken opponent to Facebook's handling of user data.

-Kirsten Grind contributed to this article.

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