WhatsApp co-founder accuses Mark Zuckerberg of trading privacy for revenue after allowing ads on the platform
WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton urged people to ‘delete’ their Facebook accounts now, during an address made to students.
Mr Acton, now the head of non-profit WhatsApp rival Signal, blasted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for trading privacy for revenue by allowing ads on his platform.
He has now called for people to ‘reject’ Facebook by deleting its family of apps from their smartphones and other devices.
It comes after the world’s largest social network has been beset by a string of privacy scandals.
Mr Acton has been openly critical of Silicon Valley firms like Facebook and Google in the past for their seemingly profit-driven approach at the expense of people’s data.
It is the second time that Mr Acton has made the comment publicly. Last year he posted on Twitter ‘It is time. #delete facebook’ following Facebook’s failings involving a political consultancy firm.
The data of 87 million users was improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica, linked to the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.
Facebook is also facing a slew of lawsuits and regulatory inquiries over its privacy practices, including ongoing investigations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and two state agencies in New York.
In 2014, Acton sold the instant messaging service to Mark Zuckerberg for $19 billion (£15bn) and left in 2017 over its plans to introduce ads to the app.
Mr Acton defended his decision to sell saying that he wanted his employees and investors to profit and he didn’t have the power, or ‘clout’ to say no.
Speaking at Stanford University in California, Mr Acton said: ‘I had 50 employees, and I had to think about them and the money they would make from this sale.’
‘I had to think about our investors and I had to think about my minority stake. I didn’t have the full clout to say no if I wanted to.’
The former CEO said that he did not agree with Facebook’s monetising strategy on WhatsApp.
Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s co-founder, also left Facebook a year later in 2018 because he reportedly didn’t agree with their approach to user data and privacy.
Both Mr Acton and Mr Koum had tried to find a way to monetise WhatsApp without bombarding users with adverts.
He said that he pushed for a business model that would charge WhatsApp users $1 a year to use the app, as the company did in its early days.
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