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WhatsApp Co-Founder Quits Amid Facebook Privacy Saga

WhatsApp Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Jan Koum, has announced his resignation, after reportedly clashing with parent company, Facebook, over privacy standards and user data encryption.

Mr Koum was widely recognised as one of Facebook’s most notable privacy advocates.

His resignation comes as Facebook continues to face the after-effects of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, coupled with revelations of unauthorised third-party access to user data.

Posted to his Facebook page, Mr Koum announced it’s “time to move on”, however, failed to provide an exact date for his departure:

“It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people”

“But it is time for me to move on”.

According to the Washington Post Koum’s decision to exits follows a clash with its parent company, over WhatsApp’s future strategy and Facebook’s attempt to use personal data, and weaken encryption standards.

WhatsApp’s other Co-Founder, Brian Acton, left the messaging company in September last year, after eight years.

Acton and Koum founded WhatsApp in 2009, which was purchased by Facebook for US$19 billion [in cash and stock] in 2014.

Commercialising WhatsApp has always been a hot topic, with the messaging service dropping its annual $1 subscription fee in 2016. As previously reported, the company is now moving towards paid-for business messaging accounts.

Unlike parent company, Facebook, WhatsApp’s management has fiercely opposed advertising.

Facebook Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg, commented on Mr Koum’s post affirming he was grateful for the knowledge passed on about encryption, asserting “those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp”.

Market commentators will have to wait and see what effect the Co-Founders’ departure has on WhatsApp’s future commercialisation strategy.

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