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WhatsApp CEO: Facebook Deal Won’t Change Privacy Policy

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Facebook is still in the middle of acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion, and the messaging company’s CEO Jan Koum recently published a blog post detailing the importance of privacy at WhatsApp. Koum said that, while there’s rampant speculation that the more than 450 million monthly active users will have their privacy invaded once the deal goes through, that’s simply not the case. Instead, he said that WhatsApp will continue to focus on the privacy of its users – which is particularly important in an age where digital privacy seems like a thing of the past.

“I want to make sure you understand how deeply I value the principle of private communication,” Koum said. “For me, this is very personal. I was born in Ukraine, and grew up in the USSR during the 1980s. One of my strongest memories from that time is a phrase I’d frequently hear when my mother was talking on the phone: “This is not a phone conversation; I’ll tell you in person.” The fact that we couldn’t speak freely without the fear that our communications would be monitored by KGB is in part why we moved to the United States when I was a teenager.”

Koum also said that he and co-founder Brian Acton created WhatsApp “around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible” and points to the company’s history of not requiring a real name, a birthday, an address or an email address. Of course, that business model is very different from Facebook’s, which uses that data to cater ads to its users. Naturally, there has been speculation that WhatsApp’s privacy policy might change under its new ownership.

“Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change,” Koum said. “Our principles will not change. Everything that has made WhatsApp the leader in personal messaging will still be in place. Speculation to the contrary isn’t just baseless and unfounded, it’s irresponsible.”

That’s good news for WhatsApp’s millions of users. We can’t forget that, while WhatsApp might not provide the data, there are prying eyes all around the world, including from some governments, who will still try to collect private data. At least we know that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is just as frustrated with those initiatives as the rest of the public.

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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...


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