By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 21, 2018 5:35 pm
Everything to know about WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton. (Acton in this 2017 file photo)
WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton’s tweet — ‘It is time. #deletefacebook’ has sparked a lot of interest given that it comes at a time when Facebook is facing severe criticism over how it handled its recent data leaks where a company called Cambridge Analytica harvested profiles of nearly 50 million users.
It has been revealed that the data was used to create political campaigns which helped Donald Trump win the US elections, and ensured victory for the Pro-Brexit side in the UK. While Acton’s tweet is not the first with the #deletefacebook in light of the recent controversy, his comment certainly stands out given he was associated with the company until early this year. The tweet has seen nearly 5K retweets and 10K likes on the platform.
So who is WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and why is his tweet getting so much attention?
Brian Acton is co-founder of WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging apps in the world, which is now owned by Facebook. He was involved with WhatsApp till February this year, but left to join Signal, another messaging app. Acton started a foundation called Signal Foundation, whose aim is to open source privacy technology, which will help protect free expression.
WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for nearly $19 billion and was founded by Jan Koum and Brian Acton. While Koum continues as the CEO, Acton has moved on from the company he founded.
Acton was born on born February 17, 1972 and has degree in Computer science from Stanford University. He also worked at Yahoo, where he met Koum and the duo worked together in the company for over nine years. The two of them founded WhatsApp in 2009, nearly two years after they had left Yahoo.
Interestingly, Acton had once revealed that in 2009 he had applied for a job to Facebook, for which he was rejected. He had then tweeted saying, “Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.” That ended up being WhatsApp, which Facebook later acquired for $19 billion.
Check out his tweet from 2009 below
Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) August 3, 2009
In a 2017 interview with indianexpress.com, Acton had said that they did not view WhatsApp as a social network. “We think of ourselves as a communication service with the focus on communication and utility on conversation, not necessarily the social constructs. We are not a product that you want to put games or dating into. We want people to have conversations with people who are meaningful to them, that’s probably their friends and family, batchmates and maybe some businesses like their grocer or tailor,” he had said.
Watch our 2017 video with Brian Acton when he was still at WhatsApp
He had also said the idea with WhatsApp was “a private, secure, safe communication service”. When asked about monetising the app, he had said the company was actively thinking about this. “We are thinking of how we can build this business in such a way that we can preserve the utility and simplicity of our product,” he had added.
WhatsApp is now rolling out businesses on the platform as well, which could potentially be a source of revenue for the app. When Acton joined Signal, he had written in the blog post that there was greater need for ensuring privacy and secure communications. It should be noted that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption relies on the Signal protocol.
“We created the Signal Foundation in response to this global need. Our plan is to pioneer a new model of technology nonprofit focused on privacy and data protection for everyone, everywhere. We believe there is an opportunity to act in the public interest and make a meaningful contribution to society by building sustainable technology that respects users and does not rely on the commoditization of personal data,” is what Acton wrote in his blog post.
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