WhatsApp Founder: Just Because Facebook Bought Us Doesn’t Mean We’re Selling Users Out

whatappreg3Amidst concern from users and industry trade groups over private information changing hands between WhatsApp and its new overlords at Facebook, the wireless messaging service’s CEO and founder is attempting to assuage fears in a new blog post promising that the company won’t sell users out.

Jan Koum even touches on his youth spent in the USSR and the threat of the KGB in his missive, which he writes is a result of “inaccurate and careless information circulating about what our future partnership would mean for WhatsApp users’ data and privacy.”

He recounts an experience he had often as a child in the Ukraine in the 1980s, when his mother would say, while on the phone, “This is not a phone conversation; I’ll tell you in person.”

He writes that the respect he learned because of that for private communication is inextricably part of WhatsApp :

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. 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.

Koum adds that if Facebook wanted the company to change its values, WhatsApp wouldn’t have gone along with that. He stresses that “our principles will not change,” but again, there’s no solemn vow, no “We will never change our privacy policy.”

But that being said, sometimes policies need to change, so issuing a blanket promise now that a company might have to go back on later probably isn’t the wisest thing either. All we can do now is keep an eye out for any changes in the Terms of Service, or stop using the app if it becomes a concern.

Setting the record straight [WhatsApp blog]