What's up with WhatsApp?
We really REALLY wish this wasn't another piece about Facebook. We wish we didn't have to say the F-word again. Really we do. But they just can't keep themselves out of the news for one goddamn week.
WhatsApp co-founder and CEO, Jan Koum, is sashaying away from Facebook (who acquired WhatsApp for $19bn in 2014) to work on solo projects. By that, he means, in his own words: "collecting rare air-cooled Porsches and playing ultimate frisbee", which, reading between the lines clearly means: So long, you data demons.
Well, potentially. Koum has based his career and the company he founded on encryption, privacy, and a principal that WhatsApp would know "as little about you as possible". In an origin story that isn't a million miles away from that of Pavel Durov's Telegram, which we covered the other week, an upbringing in the Soviet Union fed into Koum's commitment to privacy of communications and free speech. Now, it's strongly hinted that this commitment has become impossible at Facebook.
Facebook didn't dispute the claim that his departure was due to objections around the use of user data, but it's also said the Koum made his decision to leave before the scandal hit. His co-founder, Brian Acton, also left Facebook in November. Still, Koum's exit is the most high-profile act of objection to Facebook's actions we've seen yet – he's the only Facebook executive besides Sheryl Sandberg and Zuckerberg himself to be on the board of directors.
Signal, the communications service that Acton went on to lead, is an interesting one to check out, while we're all out there shopping for diversification in our social media. It's a non-profit foundation, setting themselves up as the most trusted communications experience on the planet. Here's Reddit on how it stacks up against Telegram.