WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton slams Facebook for profiting off user data and urges users to delete their accounts in protest.
During an appearance as a guest speaker for a Computer Science 181 class at Stanford University, the tech executive shares more details about his criticisms of Facebook as well as the decision to sell WhatsApp to the social media company.
Delete Facebook, Says Acton
Acton admits he thinks moderating content is "impossible," pointing out that it's something large networks such as Apple and Google struggled with, according to BuzzFeed News.
"These companies are not equipped to make these decisions," he explains. "And we give them the power. That's the bad part. We buy their products. We sign up for these websites. Delete Facebook, right?"
Acton, Facebook Share A Long History
For years, Acton has locked horns with the social media company over Whatsapp's monetization methods and privacy policies.
Back in 2009, Acton applied for a job in Facebook and was rejected, according to Fortune. Five years later in 2014, Facebook acquired Whatsapp from Acton and cofounder Jan Koum for $19 billion.
Then, in 2017, Acton left Facebook over disputes concerning Facebook's decision to introduce promotional ads to the messaging platform. Forbes reports that the decision to walk away before securing his final tranche of stocks cost him $850 million.
During the talk at Stanford University, Acton elaborates over his and Koum's decision to sell WhatsApp to Facebook for billions despite their disapproval of the company's policies.
"I had 50 employees, and I had to think about them and the money they would make from this sale. I had to think about our investors and I had to think about my minority stake," he recalls, adding that he didn't have the clout to reject the sale even if he preferred to.
Acton also criticizes business models that incentivize companies to value profit over protecting the privacy of their users, saying the motive for profit is causing the expansion of data privacy invasion and plenty of negative outcomes.
While he is hoping there are guardrails against these types of invasions, Acton says that there are currently no existing precautions.