A week after chief executive and co-founder of WhatsApp Jan Koum left the company, Facebook has named Chris Daniels as WhatsApp’s new VP, reports Recode. According to his Linkedin, Daniels is currently VP- Products at Facebook and head’s the social network’s free internet initiative Internet.org. He joined Facebook in 2011.
We presume that this move will give Facebook a greater control over how WhatsApp data should be controlled or used. Co-founder Koum’s departure had come on the back of Facebook’s user data issues. He reportedly left the company over disagreements with its parent about privacy and encryption. According to a report in the Washington Post, Koum’s decision was based on Facebook’s attempts to access personal data of users from the popular messaging service and weaken its encryption. As part of his exit, Koum will also step down from Facebook’s board of directors, a role he negotiated when WhatsApp was acquired by the social media giant for $19 billion in 2014.
Koum’s exit adds to a long list of red flags on Facebook’s handling of user data that have been raised in the last few months starting with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The other co-founder of WhatsApp Brian Acton had left Facebook in November and had endorsed the #DeleteFacebook social media campaign following news that Cambridge Analytica had improperly accessed data from 87 million Facebook users.
How it can impact India?
Note that according to this Washington Post’s report the WhatsApp founders clashed with Facebook over building a mobile payments system on WhatsApp in India. WhatsApp’s payments system in India is powered by the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). We speculate that concerns of WhatsApp founders may have stemmed from the fact that while all messaging on WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, the payments service is not, by design. This means while third parties and government agencies cannot peer into chats between two individuals they will be able to have access to data regarding all payments made via WhatsApp.
WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. Globally the platform has 1.5 billion MAUs.