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Reassuring WhatsApp users

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There were widely shared concerns of the free application getting monetized and privacy getting compromised when there was of social media giant Facebook acquiring WhatsApp. Since Facebook generates a majority of its revenue from advertising, WhatsApp users became concerned about their privacy. No Indian media outlet reported the reassuring message from WhatsApp blog. Hence, Sirf News is doing the needful.

“Unfortunately, there has… been a lot of inaccurate and careless information circulating about what our partnership would mean for WhatsApp users’ data and privacy,” assures the post by Jan Koum, the Ukrainian who is CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp, dated 17 March.

Koum adds a personal touch to the assurance by relating how much he feared being tapped by the Soviet spy agency KGB even while talking to his mother over the phone. Quite often when she called, he would say, “This is not a phone conversation; I’ll tell you in person.” This was a reason his family moved to the United States when Koum was a teenager.

“You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address. We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work. We don’t know your likes, what you for on the internet or collect your GPS location. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that,” Koum wrote.

Facebook received approval from the Federal Trade Commission to acquire WhatsApp earlier this month. However, it will need to receive international regulatory approval to close the deal. After the closes, WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently.

Koum clarified in this context, “If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it… Speculation to the contrary isn’t just baseless and unfounded, it’s irresponsible. It has the effect of scaring people into thinking we’re suddenly collecting all kinds of new data. That’s just not true… 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.”

In yesterday’s post, Koum wrote, “In the last few months, we’ve grown fastest in countries like Brazil, India, Mexico, and Russia, and our users are also sharing more than 700 million photos and 100 million videos every single day. We could go on, but for now, it’s more important that we get back to work – because here at WhatsApp, we’re just getting started.”

WhatsApp has been adding around 25 million new active users every month. The 500 million people now on board send tens of billions of text messages a day, along with 700 million photos and 100 million videos.

 

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Surajit Dasgupta
Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sirf News Surajit Dasgupta has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life, the first national affairs editor of Swarajya, executive editor of Hindusthan Samachar and desk head of MyNation

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