WhatsApp CEO on User Concerns: Respect for Privacy Is Coded into Our DNA

Even though Facebook acquired WhatsApp, users' privacy remains protected

It’s been nearly a month since Facebook purchased WhatsApp and the messaging app’s users couldn’t help but express their privacy concerns. The company’s execs said at the time that there was no such threat to their users, but things haven’t really died down.

So, once more, Jan Koum, WhatsApp CEO and co-founder, is taking to the company’s blog to set things straight.

He starts off by explaining how the company has gotten a lot of attention following Facebook’s $19 billion (€13.8 billion) acquisition. “Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of inaccurate and careless information circulating about what our future partnership would mean for WhatsApp users’ data and privacy,” Koum says.

The CEO continues explaining why privacy is so important to him and the company he helped build. “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’,” he says, taking a trip down memory lane to a time when everyone feared their communications were being monitored by the KGB.

“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA,” reads probably the strongest line in Koum’s statement.

WhatsApp’s CEO says that the messaging app doesn’t collect personal information and they don’t intend to change that, be it the real name, email address, work place, Internet search history or GPS location.

That being said, Koum says that if being purchased by Facebook meant changing WhatsApp’s values, they wouldn’t have gone through with the acquisition.

Given all these details, Koum believes that speculating anything to the contrary “isn’t just baseless and unfounded, it’s irresponsible.” This has, he says, the effect of scaring people into thinking that WhatsApp will suddenly start collecting new data on users.

Whether this will help alleviate some of the fears that users had remains to be seen, but the fact remains that users of various apps aren’t really big fans of change. At the top of the list is having a big corporation purchase that particular tool, mostly because of fear that things will change, not only in regard to privacy, but also about how the app works.

This happens every time Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo or any other tech giant makes a purchase and it is unlikely to change in the future.

WhatsApp has some 450 million users, of which 70 percent are active every day. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg believes the app can easily reach the 1-billion-user mark.

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