WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum announced his exit from Facebook saying, “It is time for me to move on.” However, a Washington Post report a day prior reported that he decided to leave Facebook after having a disagreement over their strategy, attempts to use personal data, and weakening encryption. Data collection is an essential part of Facebook’s business model since it is used by their advertisers to target their customers.
Amid the social network’s data scandal and in a bitter irony, the “#Delete Facebook movement” has taken over the voraciously popular social network. Many users have quit Facebook ever since the social platform came under scrutiny. Hollywood biggies such as Jim Carrey, Elon Musk and Will Ferrell, as well as leaders from the tech industry such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Tim Cook have deactivated their accounts.
But why would Jan Kuom need to follow suit? One of the answers lies in its history. At the time of acquisition, WhatsApp founders Kuom and Brian Acton were promised that nothing in the way it handled data would change after the takeover. However, soon enough the messaging service began to share user data with its parent company in 2016. Acton resigned from his position in the company soon after the acquisition.
Now, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has made WhatsApp distance itself from parent entity Facebook and has led to Koum giving up his place in Facebook’s board of directors. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been accused of sharing data of 87 million Facebook users with Cambridge Analytica (a political consultancy that worked for the Trump campaign). WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 and it has 1.5 billion users globally, thus making it a popular medium of instant messaging. Considering the recent charges against Facebook and following action, Kuom might have decided to take this step.
Facebook is bearing the brunt of the supposed unethical and unsafe privacy policies that they have in place. As per several reports, the social media giant shared data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica where the firm bought data collected by a personality quiz app. Facebook’s tie up with the marketing firm brings to light a larger debate over how much users can trust Facebook with their data. Facebook users had no idea that their information would be used for political targeting. This saga has cost Facebook its most priced possession, the users.