back to article Escape from the Zuckerborg: WhatsApp founder legs it

WhatsApp founder Jan Koum has left the company amid Facebook's ongoing privacy rows. Koum confirmed his departure after The Washington Post got the drop on his move. The Facebook post announcing his decision said: It's been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it's been an amazing journey with some of the …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Florida1920
    Headmaster

    FTFY

    I'm leaving at a time when people cretins are using abusing WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined.

    +1 for the rare air-cooled Porsches.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FTFY

      It's IMHO more like "I'm leaving counting my billions before anyone blames me because it's not like I didn't see this one coming as it's FAcebook and involves Zuckerberg".

      He just walks away from the smoking ruins of privacy, knowing full well that that won't make any difference other than make him less associated with the disaster.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: FTFY

      What did he believed would have happened, when he sold to Facebook? Of course, some billions are hard to resist. He can make a beau geste, and the laugh out loud every time he looks at his bank account...

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: FTFY

        I always wonder when I hear the founders of startups that sold to a larger company proclaim that their ideals will continue to be upheld. Everyone knows that they won't (or at least, it's almost never happened in the past). So are the founders deluded or lying? Or both?

        It would be refreshing to hear at least one of them say the obvious truth: "I built a successful business and now it's time for me to cash out."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time To Be Afraid Be Very Afraid

    Last founder out and loads of defections coming once options vest. Expect serious Industrial-Slurp after that. Lots of Orgs worldwide use Whatsapp+Googledocs as they're too cheap to have real IT. Not good!

    1. Siberian Hamster

      Re: Time To Be Afraid Be Very Afraid

      You're Donald Trump and I claim my five pounds!

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Time To Be Afraid Be Very Afraid

        Dollars, not pounds.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Time To Be Afraid Be Very Afraid

          Dollars, not pounds.

          He didn't say what it was pounds of.. Given that Trump appears to eat mostly MacDonalds, I shudder to think..

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Time To Be Afraid Be Very Afraid

      Absolutely right! I retired yesterday from a company that uses Whatsapp for everything, I had an ongoing argument with them about it for the 4 years I was there.

      The bonus for me was that, having refused to use the app, I received far less bothersome calls and fatuous messages than most other employees.

      Not too sure how they will 'weaken' the encryption but to monetise it some kind of access will be needed and won't be publicised.

      1. Def Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Time To Be Afraid Be Very Afraid

        Weakening encryption is easy (but a little time consuming). You just don't upgrade it, and eventually general computing performance improvements will, over time, render it obsolete.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Time To Be Afraid Be Very Afraid

        Not too sure how they will 'weaken' the encryption

        Easy – go back to whatever they were using before they adopted the Signal protocol or possibly move to RCS. The vast majority of the users don't care about encryption because "they have nothing to hide" so Facebook can finally feed the messages into its data silo. Well, once it's reached an agreement in the EU to do so. The network effect will stop a lot of people who might leave for another messenger service from doing so, privacy nuts are probably already using Signal, Wire, Threema, etc.

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Time To Be Afraid Be Very Afraid

      "Lots of Orgs worldwide use Whatsapp+Googledocs as they're too cheap to have real IT. Not good!"

      Tell me about it. I work for a great company, but they insist on using Google Docs, GMail, and most other Google services instead of using something real. Nearly everyone hates it, as all of those things are much better accomplished in other ways, but they're not budging.

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    So the hoodie wearing one wants less encryption on WhatsApp but the founder disagreed. Which I do note this: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/03/14/whatsapp_facebook_user_info/. Obviously Zuck has changed his mind and wants to sell more ads.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      He could earn money in a similar way to Slack by making WhatsApp for Business really useful for business (multiple employee logins per business, chat groups, desktop client, chat history, allowing some employees like the social media team to contact customers and not the rest) but with all data encrypted and under control of the business.

      But he's got no idea other than tearing down encryption, slurping data, and spamming ads. That's all he does.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        He could earn money in a similar way to Slack by making WhatsApp for Business really useful for business

        I suspect that's exactly what they'll do. Or maybe they'll just buy Slack and fold it in.

  5. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

    What platform next?

    WhatsApp is going to lose its USP so users will have to migrate.

    Anyone know of a good alternative?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Anyone know of a good alternative?'

      Signal

      1. johnaaronrose

        Re: 'Anyone know of a good alternative?'

        There's also Telegram & Wire. Also, all of these also run on Laptops/Desktops.

      2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

        Re: 'Anyone know of a good alternative?'

        Thanks for all the responses.

        What I mainly missed is "who owns the servers".

        WhatsApp is a fine example of a service that grew so large it was Borged by the money machine in order to monetise the user base. Any other successful free service is likely to go the same way.

        I suppose this highlights the logical disconnect between wanting a global secure service which preserves your privacy, and wanting it to be free.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: What platform next?

      For the whole thing - Telegram. It offers roughly the same service and is significantly more "not on my watch" regarding snooping.

      In any case, it is not that difficult, you can build a Signal compliant app and wrap it around with a suitable service wrapper in a couple of months. As long as you can place the servers for the service wrap, directory and discovery somewhere "safe" there will be an alternative to WhatsApp.

    4. revenant Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: What platform next?

      As AC said - Signal. I didn't use WhatsApp but my family did and they have transferred to Signal without any fuss. I've now joined them, mainly via the desktop application.

      1. Tim J

        Business model

        What is the business model of services like Signal, Telegram and Wire?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Business model

          What is the business model of services like Signal, Telegram and Wire?

          You've touched on the exact reason we are using Threema Work. Any sustainable business needs a revenue flow. A free service is not always a sign of something questionable (Telegram is apparently funded by a pissed off billionaire), but I like income where I can see it.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Business model

            Wire sells services for business.

          2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

            Re: Business model

            "Any sustainable business needs a revenue flow."

            Ah but its not a business. Open Whisper Systems (the developers that develop Signal and its protocol) are funded by donations and grants. They define themselves as a project, not a business.

            They run as not-for-profit just like Debian and GNUPG among countless others. These projects have been running for years, some even for decades like this and many are pretty critical to the infrastructure of the internet (GNUPG, OPENSSL).

            This kind of project funding may have its victims certainly but its as common as muck and has been for a long time. Also if Open Whisper Systems dissapears, someone else, anyone else will take up Signal.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Business model

              "They run as not-for-profit just like Debian and GNUPG among countless others."

              That's a model I trust a whole lot more than a commercial model. If it's intended to be a profit-making venture, then it will, sooner or later, betray you.

              1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

                Re: Business model

                If it's intended to be a profit-making venture, then it will, sooner or later, betray you.

                Nope. Some companies are still led by ethics. The simplest example of that was Lavasoft.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "That's a model I trust a whole lot more than a commercial model. "

                I'm more worried when I don't know where the money come from - because, you see, most people like to be paid, and many to be paid well. The coding monks working hard in their cold, uncomfortable scriptoria are not many.

          3. g e

            Re: Business model

            I always assumed that a good chunk of the ridiculous price that MS paid for Skype came from the Us Gov't as part of a payoff to MS to somehow backdoor that pesky 'untappable' app.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What platform next?

      Anyone know of a good alternative?

      - Signal

      - Telegram

      - Threema (at my work we've just implemented the "Threema Work" version).

      By the way, if you're really worried about intercept I would strongly advise to avoid Skype as well - IMHO that has been questionable from even before Microsoft bought it, and certainly afterwards.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: What platform next?

        "- Signal

        - Telegram

        - Threema "

        ->

        How does Rakuten owned Viber compare (same folk in Japan that own Canadian Kobo)? It seems to sell "Stickers"

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: What platform next?

        "advise to avoid Skype as well"

        Apart from the fact it's now practically broken.

    6. ro55mo

      Re: What platform next?

      Signal gets my vote. The mobile app lets you send normal SMS as well as encrypted messages. A desktop client also exists.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What platform next?

      LINE

    8. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: What platform next?

      Use Signal.

      They created the Signal protocol that whatsapp adopted when it brought in the encryption. Whatsapp encryption is from Signal.

      I would avoid Telegram if possible as although they may have a good app etc they made the newbie mistake of inventing their own crypto. Its seen as good practice that as crypto is done and freely implemented in ways that are reviewed by many, even in competitions, there is no need to "reinvent the wheel". Its best to use the established practices of crypto based on all that testing effort.

      http://cs.au.dk/~jakjak/master-thesis.pdf

      Note: In that PDF they compare Telegrams homegrown crypto against the established and widley used crypto in a program called TextSecure. TextSecure changed their name to Signal.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Signal

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal_(software)

        Sounds good and is on the Package Manager on Linux Mint as well as Android Playstore.

        The difficulty is getting people to move. They are jaded from Skype -> QQ Messenger ->WhatsApp -> Viber etc (not always that order). Even older stuff too before Skype.

    9. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What platform next?

      Signal probably has the best crypto but Telegram is best for multiple devices and I like the Lebowski stickers (preferences don't have to be rational). Signal can do groups but you can't administer them, it cannot do proper sync or backup across devices.

      Wire is also fine but will suffer from not having a clear USP.

      I guess we can also expect cat and mouse regarding governments blocking networks for which they can't get the keys (expect Facebook to roll over and get it's tummy tickled for this) and networks developing ways of obfuscating traffic…

      Google also deserves a mention for pushing RCS for Android so that we can hope to get in touch with those not on whichever service we tend to use. Yes, the spooks will be able to listen in, just like they can with SMS, but still something worth pursuing.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Zuckerberg ?

    Isn't that a name that conjures up images of congestion in the Sewer network ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zuckerberg ?

      Isn't that a name that conjures up images of congestion in the Sewer network ?

      No, that's fatberg, but it's understandable to confuse them as both are unwanted and far too big.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Zuckerberg ? - No, that's fatberg

        Fatbergs are partly the result of people eating far too much Zucker.

  7. 101

    Tweet, tweet...

    Seems the canary escaped from the cage before the ax falls.

  8. Oneman2Many

    You can move to another platform but none have enough momentum at the moment to persuade the 100+ people I have on whatapp that they need to change as well. And a majority of users don't care about privacy based on the wide open profiles they have on farcebook and posting all the personal details required for identity theft.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      the 100+ people I have on whatapp

      And of these how many do you chat to regularly?

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "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."

    Translation: You've taught me this encryption stuff lets little people hide stuff from me if I let them use it.

  10. imanidiot Silver badge

    The way I read this

    "Facebook is going to screw over your privacy and break Whatsapp encryption. I'm out"

    I might be wrong, but I find the focus on not actually really saying anything about encryption or privacy suspicious.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: The way I read this

      Facebook got *all* the the contacts on any phone with Whatsapp when they bought it. So privacy ship long gone.

  11. Kaltern

    "for everything you've taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from people's hands. Those values will always be at the heart of Facebook."

    Just thought I'd engage the bullshit filter.

  12. Barracoder

    WhatsApp stickiness

    The only thing that is keeping me on WhatsApp right now is the horrible thought of trying to teach my mother how to use another messaging app.

  13. DougS Silver badge

    Google should have bought WhatsApp when they had the chance

    They could have had a viable Android messaging platform to match iMessage. Just add SMS fallback to the app and done.

    Instead after many failed attempts they've waved the white flag and are partnering with the telcos on what is basically SMS 2.0, which integrates the features of popular messaging platforms except encryption! Unfortunately that will become the new default Android messaging app, likely drawing users off more secure alternatives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google should have bought WhatsApp when they had the chance

      It’s a tough question as to which I would trust less with a messaging service, Google or Facebook? Both are almost equally untrustworthy.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Google should have bought WhatsApp when they had the chance

      They could have had a viable Android messaging platform to match iMessage.

      Sorry, what? I-Message is Apple only and Google doesn't do platform-only stuff. I-Message will presumably also get the bullet at some point because people need to chat to other people who don't have I-Phones. And Google has got Hangouts into its business suite.

      More importantly: where's the ROI for Facebook on buying WhatsApp? There is certainly potential but so far little to show for the $20 bn. Actually, apart from Instagram all Facebook's purchases look pretty poor: Oculus is also going nowhere fast. Still, Facebook's share structure, like so many of the newer companies, means that Zuckerberg can do whatever he wants with the company, though I suspect a greater focus on Instagram is likely: ditch the echo chamber and concentrate on fashion snaps…

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Google should have bought WhatsApp when they had the chance

        iMessage ain't going away:

        https://hackernoon.com/lets-face-reality-us-teens-may-engage-with-imessage-more-than-any-other-social-platform-f0c66cf6fc22

        Since there was already an iOS version of WhatsApp, all Google would have needed to do is maintain it and between the in-built advantage of being the default messaging app on the most popular smartphone platform (though it would have taken a few years to build up critical mass due to Android's update problem) and being able to reach all Android & iOS users, it could have become the dominant platform.

        I wonder how much of the iPhone's continual market share growth among teens is due to iMessage? I mean they can obviously participate in iMessage group chats as an Android user since it also supports SMS, but since teens tend want/use more functionality out of their messaging than SMS provides they do lose something being in a group iMessage chat as SMS.

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