Unfortunately, there has been a lot of inaccurate and careless information circulating about what WhatsApp’s future partnership with Facebook would mean for its users’ data and privacy.
That’s the view of WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, who felt the need to set the record straight regarding the company’s recent acquisition by the social media giant.
“Since announcing our upcoming partnership with Facebook, we’ve been truly humbled by how much attention our story has received,” Koum wrote.
“As a company, we’re excited to continue focusing on offering as many people as possible the chance to stay connected with friends and loved ones, no matter who they are or where they live.”
In essence, Koum literally did set the record straight.
“Above all else, I want to make sure you understand how deeply I value the principle of private communication,” he wrote.
“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.”
According to Koum, respect for user privacy is coded into the company’s DNA, with WhatsApp built around the goal of knowing as little about its users as possible.
“You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address,” he wrote.
“We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work.
“We don’t know your likes, what you search for on the internet or collect your GPS location. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.”
If partnering with Facebook meant that the company had to change our values, in the words of Koum, he wouldn’t have done it.
“Instead, we are forming a partnership that would allow us to continue operating independently and autonomously,” he added.
“Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change. 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. It has the effect of scaring people into thinking we’re suddenly collecting all kinds of new data.
“That’s just not true, and it’s important to us that you know that.”
Make no mistake: Koum claims WhatsApp’s future partnership with Facebook will not compromise the vision that brought the company to this point.
“Our focus remains on delivering the promise of WhatsApp far and wide, so that people around the world have the freedom to speak their mind without fear,” he added.