WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton in a public appearance at Stanford University repeated his call against, this time asking students to delete their Facebook accounts. Previously Acton had tweeted last year saying it was time to delete Facebook in the middle of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Acton had quit WhatsApp back in 2018. Later, WhatsApp’s other co-founder Jan Koum also quit the company and it was reported that both founders had clashed with Mark Zuckerberg over the future of the messaging app, and had thus quit the company.
According to a Buzzfeed News report, Acton made the remarks during an event for an undergraduate class as a guest speaker. Acton also talked about his decision to sell WhatsApp to Facebook, which was one of the biggest deals in technology at nearly $19 billion back in 2014.
Acton said that for technology companies, profit was driving “the expansion of invasion of data privacy and driving the expansion of a lot of negative outcomes…” He said that he wished there were ways to control this, according to the report.
On why he sold his company to Facebook, Acton said he and Koum “idealistically” thought they would have control over the company. He also said he pushed for a service-based model for WhatsApp’s revenue, by charging users a fee, instead of the traditional advertisements model.
It has been confirmed that WhatsApp’s Stories will soon have ads, something the original founders had been against. In fact, when WhatsApp was first launched, the app was supposed to free for the first year with a paid charge the next year of around $1 and the founders had stressed on keeping it completely ad-free. WhatsApp later became completely free.
“WhatsApp’s business model was: We’ll give you service for a year for a dollar… It was not extraordinarily money-making, and if you have a billion users … you’re going to have $1 billion in revenue per year. That’s not what Google and Facebook want. They want multibillions of dollars,” he was quoted as saying.
Acton also said that users are giving Facebook and Google will not be able to moderate content and that all of them struggle to decide what is a good or bad website. “These companies are not equipped to make these decisions,” he said.
He added that users continue to give them power by buying their products and signing up for their websites. The Buzzfeed report quotes him as saying, “We buy their products. We sign up for these websites. Delete Facebook, right?”
Previously in an tell-all interview with Forbes Acton had revealed how his plans for monetising WhatsApp through a metered-user model, was shot down by Sandberg, who said that this would not scale for revenue. It was also revealed that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption was seen by Facebook as standing in the way of helping build a revenue model.