WhatsApp co-founder to exit Facebook

Judy Cobb
May 1, 2018

Amidst controversy over WhatsApp strategy and Facebook's attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption, CEO and co-founder of world's most used messaging platform has quit the company. I'm grateful for everything you'd done to help connect the world, and for everything you've taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people's hands. The move follows the departure a year ago of fellow WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who has since been publicly critical of the social-media giant. WhatsApp made all of its messages end-to-end encrypted in 2016 - a feature Facebook Messenger has as well, although users have to opt-in to it. The confirmation came after the Washington Post reported Monday that Koum was getting ready to leave over disagreements over the company's direction and issues like encryption.

Koum's departure comes just a day before Facebook's annual f8 developer conference, where the company is looking to move beyond the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the associated privacy backlash, but this announcement might just make those efforts a bit harder - especially since it brings back memories of Whatsapp co-founder Brian Acton and his departure from the company. In March, The New York Times reported that Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief information security officer, meant to leave the company after an internal dispute over how to handle the threat of Russian influence efforts.

Acton, who left WhatsApp in November past year, has donated US$50 million to Signal, a messaging app made by Open Whisper Systems, and is now executive chairman of the non-profit Signal Foundation.

At the time, Mr Koum wrote that the deal would not have happened if WhatsApp "had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product".

Koum did not reveal when exactly he would depart the company. Facebook and WhatsApp declined to comment on Koum's departure.

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The prospect of introducing advertising amplified tensions between Messrs.

Despite the Post's reporting, Koum portrayed his departure in positive terms.

Acton, who left Facebook in September 2017, was one of the most startling people to declare their breakup with the social network, posting to Twitter in March: "It is time".

Messrs. Koum and Acton had clauses in their contracts with Facebook that allowed an acceleration of their contracts if Facebook added advertising to the app. Mr. Koum's contract with Facebook wasn't supposed to end until November, the person familiar with the matter said.

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