In an unusual move, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum has planned his exit after a clash with parent Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) over strategy and its approach to personal data, The Washington Post reports. "But it is time for me to move on", he said. The move follows the departure past year of fellow WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who has since been publicly critical of the social-media giant. Facebook acquired his popular messaging app for $16 billion in 2014. But in 2016, Facebook began collecting phone numbers from WhatsApp users so it could offer better friend suggestions and show more relevant ads.
Facebook has been accused of being lax and allowing the transfer of its users' information to companies who then target them with ads, along with revelations of Russian election manipulation in the US, fake news, data leaks and more. He no longer wants to work for a large company, the person added. Facebook and WhatsApp declined to comment on Koum's departure. However, the Post suggested in its report that attempts by Facebook "to use its personal data and weaken its encryption" had caused tensions between the two companies, with the recent data scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica contributing to "a climate of broader frustration with Facebook among WhatsApp employees", sources with knowledge of the matter told the news outlet. Some privacy advocates say Facebook's targeted ad tools are incompatible with privacy. "I'm leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined, he wrote on his Facebook page".
Despite the apparent hard feelings reported by the Post, Koum wrote, "I'll still be cheering WhatsApp on - just from the outside".
"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". At that time of buyout by Mark Zuckerberg-led social media giant, WhatsApp also promised users that these values wouldn't be compromised.
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Privacy was WhatsApp's hallmark, and especially important to Mr. Koum, who grew up in Soviet-era Ukraine.
"In a February blog post on the Signal Foundation site, Acton wrote: "(Signal founder) Moxie (Marlinspike) and I share a belief that the best way to continue to ensure the universal availability of high-security and low-priced communications services like Signal is to do so through a foundation structure that is free of the inherent limitations of a for-profit company.
Despite the Post's reporting, Koum portrayed his departure in positive terms.