WhatsApp CEO quits due to disagreements with Facebook over privacy

Now, it appears that the conversation of privacy has trickled down to Facebook-owned properties, mainly WhatsApp.

Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp with Koum, announced his departure from Facebook a year ago.

Koum is also said to step down from his role in Facebook as one of the board members.

Facebooks data privacy practices had been apparently the bone of contention between the Facebook bosses and the WhatsApp founders Koum and Brian Acton, who left the company in November previous year, for long.

Koum didn't elaborate on his reasons for leaving aside from saying in his statement that it's time for him to move on after nearly a decade. I've been blessed to work with such an incredibly small team and see how a insane amount of focus can produce an app used by so many people all over the world. "The team is stronger than ever and it'll continue to do incredible things", he wrote in an emotional Facebook post.

In his post, Koum thanked people and stated that it was his time to "move on". "And I'll still be cheering WhatsApp on - just from the outside", he wrote.

When asked who will replace Koum at the head of WhatsApp, or whether he plans to remain on Facebook's board, the company said it had no comment.

Koum chose to leave after continued disagreements with Facebook over the messaging app's privacy and encryption issues, according to sources privy to the matter.

Media reports citing unnamed executives said Koum had been unhappy with Facebook's handling of privacy for a while, and that he had been talking about leaving even before the Cambridge Analytica scandal blew up in mid-March. Instead, Facebook wanted it to be compromised a bit to allow businesses to access user's messages. There had been a certain level of pride within WhatsApp's team over the dedication to privacy and the departure of their co-founder had left many wondering whether Facebook would now open WhatsApp to tracking user data and, eventually, to ads on its service.

WhatsApp implemented end-to-end encryption between 2014 and 2016 in response to pressure from privacy groups.

According to the Washington Post, Koum is leaving the social media giant over recent clashes he has had with the company's senior management over how Facebook handles personal data. In 2017, Brian Acton left WhatsApp and today, shocking the world, Koum too called it quits from the company that he created. It's been a wobbly road, filled with apologies and bromides about protecting user data until the next problem is revealed. WhatsApp founders had always been focused on intensifying encryption on the social messaging platform.

In fact, Acton led a charge to encourage people to delete Facebook, biting the hand that fed him billions. Other WhatsApp employees are also reportedly set to leave in November, exactly four years and a month after the Facebook acquisition - which is when employees are allowed to exercise all of their stock options under the Facebook acquisition agreement.

  • Eleanor Harrison