WhatsApp co-founder quits Facebook after clashing over privacy rules

The co-founder of WhatsApp has left parent company Facebook after reportedly clashing with the company’s attempts to water down his messaging app’s commitment to privacy.

Jan Koum, who co-founded the messaging service with Brian Acton almost a decade ago, has said that it is "time to move on".

Although he didn’t give a specific reason for the departure, reports from the Washington Post citing unnamed sources suggest that Facebook’s attempt to use personal data from WhatsApp (which it acquired in February 2014) had something to do with his decision.

Brian Acton, who left FAcebook last September, has already been vocal about Facebook’s use of personal data.

He urged people to delete Facebook as part of an online campaign that sprung up in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, commented on Koum’s post and said he was grateful for teaching him 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," he said.

WhatsApp has grown to become the most popular messaging app in the world with over 1.5 billion users globally. Part of its popularity is the end-to-end encryption that the service provides.

Facebook picked up the service for nearly $19 billion (£13 billion) in 2014 and has plans to use data from the service, such as phone numbers, to target adverts.

European regulators weren’t too happy with that with GDPR on the horizon, so Facebook said it has halted the plans for the moment. Although there’s no telling if they will be picked up again.

Koum didn’t say what his future business plans were or what his departure date is. But he did say he would be focusing on things outside of technologyu.

"I’m leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined," he said.

"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."

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