WhatsApp CEO and founder Jan Koum released a statement yesterday, hoping to set the record straight. Ever since the company announced the merger with Facebook, rumor and speculation have been rife. What has also been rife are genuine security concerns. So what exactly is Koum setting straight?
“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 writes in the statement. But he doesn’t mention what this careless information is.
Some of the genuine problems that WhatsApp has in its encryption protocol are well-documented, and could pose a risk to user privacy. Koum’s response to that revelation was dismissive. “Basically, this is sensationalized and overblown. Please report responsibly and do research that goes beyond twitter-sphere” he told Ars Technica.
However, Koum is very adamant in the statement that WhatsApp does not collect or store user data. “You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address. 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,” he says.
Given that Facebook is a data-collecting titan (even monitoring the posts you delete) concerns from WhatsApp users or potential users shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed. One of the key selling points of WhatsApp is that it is so private, and the only real point of contact between users and the company is a phone number.
Koum holds fast to his ideals, and the company’s mission statement: “Our future partnership with Facebook will not compromise the vision that brought us 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.”
The record is certainly straight, as far as Koum sees it, but the merger has put a lot of stress on WhatsApp as it’s thrust further into the public eye. Only time will tell if the merger was a good idea.
SocialTimes reached out to WhatsApp for comment, but received no response. We’ll update if we hear back.