Monday December 10, 2018
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Amid Data Privacy Scandal, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum Quits Facebook

WhatsApp CEO quits Facebook over 'data privacy' concerns

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WhatsApp launches TV campaign in India to fight fake news. Pixabay
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 In a jolt to Facebook, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum has decided to move on amid reports that he had a difference of opinion with parent company Facebook over data privacy, encryption and other issues.

Koum announced his exit from WhatsApp immediately after The Washington Post on Monday reported his plans to depart “after clashing with its parent, Facebook, over the popular messaging service’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption”.

“I’m leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined. The team is stronger than ever and it’ll continue to do amazing things,” Koum said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Also Read: This creepy app uses WhatsApp data to let users ‘spy’

“I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee. And I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside. Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible,” he added.

According to the report, Koum who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for more than $19 billion in 2014, “also plans to step down from Facebook’s board of directors”.

“The independence and protection of its users’ data is a core tenet of WhatsApp that Koum and his co-founder, Brian Acton, promised to preserve when they sold their tiny start-up to Facebook,” the report added.

Facebook's logo
Facebook. Pixabay

Koum further said in his post that “It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people.

“But it is time for me to move on. I’ve been blessed to work with such an incredibly small team and see how a crazy amount of focus can produce an app used by so many people all over the world,” he added.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg quickly replied via a post: “I will miss working so closely with you. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralised systems and put it back in people’s hands”.

According to Tech Crunch, One possible candidate for the new WhatsApp CEO role would be its top business executive Neeraj Arora.

Arora has been WhatsApp since 2011 — well before the Facebook acquisition.

Also Read: Facebook: WhatsApp Business App Has Over 3mn Users

With 1.5 billion monthly users, WhatsApp is the biggest mobile messaging service in the world. Over 3 million people are actively using WhatsApp Business app.

After the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Facebook has warned investors that more users’ data scandals in the future may adversely affect the social networking giant’s reputation and brand image.

In its quarterly report shared with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), without mentioning Cambridge Analytica, Facebook said that its ongoing investments in safety, security and content review will identify additional instances of misuse of user data.

“We may also be notified of such incidents or activity via the media or other third parties,” Facebook said.

Appearing before the US Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the lawmakers that his own personal data was part of 87 million users’ that was “improperly shared” with the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.  IANS

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Facebook Begins Verifying Political Ads in India Ahead of 2019 Polls

In April, Zuckerberg said Facebook will ensure that its platform is not misused to influence elections in India and elsewhere

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Facing intense scrutiny over the misuse of its platform globally during elections, Facebook has announced fresh steps to increase ad transparency and defend against foreign interference ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in India.

Now anyone who wants to run an ad in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location, and give more details about who placed the ad, the social networking giant said in a statement late Thursday.

“We’re making big changes to the way we manage these ads on Facebook and Instagram. We’ve rolled out these changes in the US, Brazil and the UK, and next, we’re taking our first steps towards bringing transparency to ads related to politics in India,” said Sarah Clark Schiff, Product Manager at Facebook.

“This is key as we work hard to prevent abuse on Facebook ahead of India’s general elections next year.”

Facebook said the identity and location confirmation will take a few weeks. So those planning to run political ads next year should better start the verification process now by using their mobile phones or computer to submit proof of identity and location.

“This will help avoid delays when they run political ads next year,” informed Schiff.

Advertisers in India can download the latest Facebook app and visit Settings to get started.

Early 2019, Facebook would also start to show a disclaimer on all political ads that provides more information about who’s placing the ad, and an online searchable Ad Library for anyone to access.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

“This is a library of all ads related to politics from a particular advertiser as well as information like the budget associated with an individual ad, a range of impressions, as well as the demographics of who saw the ad,” said Facebook.

At that time, the company would also begin to enforce the policy that requires all ads related to politics be run by an advertiser who’s completed the authorisations process and be labelled with the disclaimer.

“We will not require eligible news publishers to get authorised, and we won’t include their ads in the Ad Library,” Facebook added.

Visiting India couple of months ago, Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Policy Solutions, said that the social networking giant was in the process of establishing a task force comprising “hundreds of people” in the country to prevent bad actors from abusing its platform.

“With the 2019 elections coming, we are pulling together a group of specialists to work together with political parties,” he said.

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny ever since allegations of Russia-linked accounts using the social networking platform to spread divisive messages during the 2016 presidential election surfaced.

Also Read- Google’s Smart Messaging App Allo Will Not Work After March 2019

Echoing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s earlier comments on elections across the world, Allan said the social media platform “wants to help countries around the world, including India, to conduct free and fair elections”.

In April, Zuckerberg said Facebook will ensure that its platform is not misused to influence elections in India and elsewhere.

“Our goals are to understand Facebook’s impact on upcoming elections — like Brazil, India, Mexico and the US midterms — and to inform our future product and policy decisions,” he told the US lawmakers during a hearing. (IANS)