You couldn’t talk about the social impact and ethical responsibilities of tech companies without talking about Facebook, and that’s what happened yesterday at Stanford University. Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp and a guest lecturer at Computer Science 181, an undergraduate course, urged Stanford University students to delete their Facebook accounts on Wednesday as he defended the reasons why he sold his instant messaging startup, Whatsapp, Mark Zuckerberg for $ 19 billion in 2014, according to Buzzfeed News.
His intervention on Wednesday, in which he shared the same panel with Ellora Israni, a former Facebook software engineer and co-founder of the She ++ initiative, was only the second time Acton has spoken publicly about the deterioration of his relationship with the social network and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The first time was when he confided in Forbes. Acton had told Forbes that he left the company at the end of 2017 under pressure from Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg who were planning to introduce ads on the WhatsApp platform and offer companies a direct channel to communicate with them. WhatsApp users.
Speaking to Stanford University where he is a former student, Acton explained the founding principles of WhatsApp and his fateful decision to sell it to Facebook in 2014. Brian Acton also did not fail to criticize the profit models that are the origin of the gloves of today’s technology, notably Facebook and Google, as well as the Silicon Valley ecosystem in which entrepreneurs are pushed to pursue venture capital to satisfy their employees and shareholders.
And we give them the power, he said. This is the bad part. We buy their products. We sign up for these websites. Deleting Facebook, is that? , he added.
Speaking about Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, Acton showed that the decision to sell his startup was driven more by the interests of employees and investors. I had 50 employees and I had to think about them and the money they were going to make from this sale. I had to think about our investors and my minority stake. I didn’t have all the strength to say no if I wanted to, he said. Despite selling WhatsApp in a deal that made him a billionaire, Acton’s negative feelings about Facebook are no secret.
I sold the privacy of my users for greater profit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with it every day, Acton said in September last year to Forbes, who he shared the details of the conflicts that ultimately led to his departure. In his article, Acton described how Facebook set goals for WhatsApp to reach $ 10 billion in revenue within five years of mounting by placing ads on the platform and offering businesses ways to communicate directly with WhatsApp users.
He left in November 2017 after more than three years with the company and Jan Koum, the other co-founder, announced that he was leaving Facebook in April 2018. They left because they both fiercely opposed the plans for the company. company to promote WhatsApp and its approach to user data and privacy.
While Acton did not discuss the details of Zuckerberg and COO sheryl sandberg’s WhatsApp mounting plans, during his Stanford intervention, he spoke critically about the business models that motivate companies to donate. the priority to profits on the private life of the people.
The capitalist motive for profit, or to answer Wall Street, is driving the expansion of the invasion of data privacy and the expansion of a large number of negative outcomes that we are simply not happy with, at he said. I would like there to be safeguards. I wish there were ways to contain it. I haven’t seen this manifesto yet, and it scares me, he added.
Acton said that by selling Facebook he had a bit of a turnip back then, ideally thinking that he and Koum could continue to do things their own way by introducing a means of income diversification. Instead of sucking up user data to help advertisers target ads, Acton and Koum hoped that a service model could align their interests with user privacy and security needs.
WhatsApp’s business model was: we’ll give you one year of service for a dollar, he said. It wasn’t extraordinarily profitable, and if you have a billion users … you’re going to have $ 1 billion in revenue a year. This is not what Google and Facebook want. They want billions of dollars, he added.
According to Acton, the company initially built the functionality people wanted, including end-to-end encryption. He also recalled that his first model for WhatsApp was Craigslist, a company with a small number of employees that provided a public service and built a successful business without raising venture capital. But the company eventually embraced this ideal and ended up being bought by Facebook, which did with it what he and Koum hadn’t planned on before.
Acton, however, applauded Facebook’s decision not to place servers in China, and mentioned how other companies, like Apple, continue to do business there. According to him, Apple, which is a company he considers to have a strong track record in protecting user privacy, has servers in China to sell its devices to some 1.4 billion people in the country. I think a lot of these corporate decisions are made arbitrarily and capriciously, said Acton.
Brian Acton’s exhortation comes as Mark Zuckerberg has decided to shift Facebook towards encryption and privacy and to establish small group communications. Indeed, last week, in a long blog post, the CEO of Facebook announced a radical shift towards the protection of privacy on its four applications Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram, that is to say that during for years to come, the data on all four apps will be digitized so that outsiders, and even Facebook, cannot read it.
In March 2018, following Facebook’s breaches of data privacy regarding political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, Acton tweeted a call for the removal of Facebook #deletefacebook.
Source : Computer Science 181, BuzzFeed
And you ?
What do you think?
With the program merger of WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, How to get rid of Facebook for good?
Last year, nearly half of young users deleted Facebook from their phones, following various scandals involving the company.
US Facebook users quit social media by the millions, Edison Research poll finds
USA: A quarter of Facebook users deleted the app in 12 months, while 74% changed their relationship with the social network
Brian Acton, WhatsApp Co-Founder, Explains Why He Left Facebook, And Ditched $ 850 Million
Jan Koum, co-founder of WhatsApp, announces his departure from Facebook, after much clash over how to handle data