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Jan Koum is leaving Facebook and WhatsApp users will end up paying the price

Published May 1st, 2018 6:50AM EDT
WhatsApp Founder Jan Koum
Image: Gombert/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

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Jan Koum, the other Facebook-made WhatsApp co-founder that’s still working for the giant social network will leave the company over clashes with Mark Zuckerberg about user data and encryption. His partner, Brian Acton, left the company back in November. He then made the news for investing $50 million in private chat app Signal and encouraging people to leave Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The Washington Post was the first to report the news, which Koum later confirmed in a message on Facebook.

It “is time for me to move on,” Koum said, adding that he’ll focus on other things such as “collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee.”

Koum isn’t the only WhatsApp exec demoralized by Facebook’s vision for the largest messaging app in the world. From The Post:

Ultimately, Koum was worn down by the differences in approach, the people said. Other WhatsApp employees are demoralized and plan to leave in November, four years and a month after the Facebook acquisition, when they are allowed to exercise all their stock options under the terms of the Facebook deal, according to the people.

Koum is also stepping down from Facebook’s board of directors, and his decision to leave the company was apparently made before the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Koum and Facebook disagreed on how WhatsApp would make money. Both he and Acton were against the ads invading the platform. He also opposed Facebook’s desire to share user data between the two services, but we all know that WhatsApp ultimately caved to Facebook’s requests — which resulted in some legal troubles for Facebook.

End-to-end encryption, a chat feature WhatsApp introduced in 2016, two years after it was acquired by Facebook, may soon go away as well. And Koum departure seems to be a sure sign that times are changing.

Apparently, he clashed with Facebook over encryption as well, as Facebook wants to weaken encryption so that businesses using the chat app for commercial purposes could add various tools to the customer experience.

Facebook’s own Messenger app isn’t end-to-end encrypted either.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.