FACEBOOK'S PRIVACY WOES continue to escalate as WhatsApp's chief exec Jan Koum has thrown in the towel over disagreements with Facebook's approach to privacy.
Koum, who co-founded the mobile messaging app which Facebook snapped up in 2014 for $19bn, decided to quit the company and Facebook's board of directors, with people familiar with the internal discussions telling The Washington Post that tensions with Facebook over WhatsApp's use of end-to-end encryption was the motivation for the departure.
Apparently, WhatsApp execs believed that Facebook was keen to weaken WhatsApp's encryption to make it easier for businesses to use its tools. The executives were also reportedly opposed to using WhatsApp data to create user profiles that could be unified across multiple Facebook-run platforms which could be used for advert targeting or data mining.
WhatsApp's top brass has been staunchly against in-app adverts for some time, so it would be surprising to hear it clashing with Facebook which loves serving up data-driven ads.
According to The Washington Post, continued conflicts with Facebook's approach to privacy wore Koum down and cumulating with him deciding to quit and flog off his Facebook stock options.
Koum later publically announced his quitting of WhatsApp on Facebook but didn't allude to any debates over privacy or disputes with Mark Zuckerberg's team.
"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," he said, with what we detect is an air of smugness.
Normally when executives quit in such a positive but unexpected manner, there's something else going on behind the scenes. But Facebook is keeping pretty tight-lipped on the insinuation, though Mark Zuckerberg did post a comment on Koum's post that was steeped with positivity.
"Jan: I will miss working so closely with you. 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 centralised systems and put it back in people's hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp," wrote Zuck, which would suggest we won't be seeing WhatsApp plastered with ads anytime soon even without Koum at the tiller.
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook's approach to data use and its protection of user privacy has had a stark light shone on it, resulting in Zuckerberg appearing in front of US senators to explain just what the hell Facebook is doing with its data collection. µ
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