Tech

WhatsApp CEO Leaving Facebook Amid Reported Disputes

WhatsApp CEO Leaving Facebook Amid Reported Disputes

Jan Koum said in a Facebook post on Monday that it was time to "move on" and take time to do things outside of technology. "I'm leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined".

In 2014, Facebook acquired the text messaging, group messaging, voice, and video calling app from Koum and co-founder Brian Acton for $19 billion.

The Post, citing people familiar with internal WhatsApp discussions, said Koum was worn down by the differences in approach to privacy and security between WhatsApp and Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on Koum's timeline, writing he was thankful for what Koum taught him about "about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people's hands".

The Washington Post reported Monday that Koum is stepping down because of disagreements over Facebook's attempts to use the personal data of WhatsApp customers, as well as efforts to weaken the app's encryption. After four years, Jan Koum thinks it is time to leave because Facebook's values no longer align with his. Mr. Koum is up for reelection as a Facebook director, according to Facebook's proxy filing earlier this month.

Facebook has yet commented on the departure of Koum aside from this tweet.

Commercialising WhatsApp has always been a hot topic, with the messaging service dropping its annual $1 subscription fee in 2016. But Zuckerberg has reportedly pushed WhatsApp to "move faster" to grow its business base, despite scrutiny from the United Kingdom government about its privacy policy as well European Commission surrounding the company.

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Privacy was WhatsApp's hallmark, and especially important to Mr. Koum, who grew up in Soviet-era Ukraine. The company once said it was built "around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible".

The clash becomes more apparent considering WhatsApp's pledge to users that in selling to Facebook, the company would preserve the independence and protection of user data - a promise it backed further by adding encryption in 2016, the Post notes.

The prospect of introducing advertising amplified tensions between Messrs.

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".

Koum and Acton applied to work at Facebook, but failed.

-Kirsten Grind contributed to this article.


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