Jan Koum, WhatsApp CEO, has penned a strongly-worded post over on WhatsApp’s blog to set “the record straight” about data and privacy post Facebook’s acquisition.
Koum notes that he and his team have been humbled by how much attention Facebook’s acquisition news have received, but notes that “there has also been a lot of inaccurate and careless information circulating” about the messaging app’s future partnership with Facebook and what would it mean for WhatsApp users’ data and privacy.
“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible: You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address”, notes Koum in the blog post.
Koum notes that WhatsApp isn’t after its users’ email address or date or birth or GPS location or their place of work and “none of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.”
Koum says that they wouldn’t have gone ahead with the Facebook deal if it meant that they had to change their values.
“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.”
“Make no mistake: our future partnership with Facebook will not compromise the vision that brought us to this point.”
These words come weeks after privacy-advocates including the likes of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy have questioned WhatsApp’s Facebook acquisition citing users’ privacy and have asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block the deal.
Koum’s blog post is accompanied by an update to the messaging app which brings all privacy related features of the app, which were previously scattered across different options, into one single option titled ‘Privacy’.
Though the new options, users can completely disable chat backup; hide their ‘last seen’, ‘profile photo’ and ‘status’ depending on their preferences to ‘nobody’, ‘my contacts’, or ‘everyone’.