WhatsApp founder dismisses Facebook merger privacy fears

Facebook deal “will not change values”.

Private and confidential

WhatsApp founder Jan Koum has hit out at rumours the messaging platform will become less confidential once it's acquired by Facebook.

The app has become popular across the world as it can be used almost anonymously, from the point of view of the service provider. This has proved particularly attractive in countries with high levels of government monitoring of communications, such as Iran.

However, following the news the social networking giant is to acquire WhatsApp, it was speculated the level of privacy offered by the service would be eroded, as Facebook collects personal data from its users.

Koum has responded to these concerns through a blog post in which he seeks to "set the record straight".

"Unfortunately, there has...been a lot of inaccurate and careless information circulating about what our future partnership would mean for WhatsApp users' data and privacy," said Koum, who said his belief in the right to private communication was spurred in part by growing up in the USSR during the 1980s.

Koum claims respect for user privacy is "coded in [WhatsApp's] DNA", pointing out the company does not ask for email addresses or real names, nor does it collect information on customers' dates of birth, GPS, internet search, or likes and dislikes.

"If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn't have done," said Kroum.

"Make no mistake: our future partnership with Facebook will not compromise the vision that brought us to this point. Our focus remains on delivering the promise of WhatsApp far and wide, so that people around the world have the freedom to speak their mind without fear," he concluded.

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