Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for a whopping $16 billion (the largest deal in Facebook’s history) making its co-founders – Jan Koum and Brian Acton – extremely rich. But, one of the WhatsApp co-founders is now telling users to delete Facebook.
It is time. #deletefacebook
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) March 20, 2018
In a tweet on Tuesday, Brian Acton told his followers to delete Facebook. “It is time,” Acton tweeted with a hashtag #deletefacebook. The executive gave no further explanation on his tweet. As of now, it is not known what Acton’s intentions were, whether he was declaring his intentions or was advising others to do so, or if he was doing this in relation to the recent data breach controversies surrounding the social networking giant.
Brian Acton, however, has invested $50 million in another social networking platform – Signal, last month. The co-founder – worth $6.5 billion – left the messaging platform earlier this year to start his own foundation, while Koum continues to lead the company.
The last few days haven’t been ideal for the social networking company. The company, which was already facing scrutiny over the misuse of the platform by Russian trolls, is now involved in a scandal over the alleged misuse of user data by the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. Reports are that the analytics firm accessed data from over 50 million users without permission.
Facebook’s stock is down over 11% since last weekend. The company is also facing scrutiny from regulators in the U.S. and Europe, and an investor lawsuit over the price drop as well. The social networking giant is also expected to face a probe by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Reports are that Cambridge Analytica got the user data from the creator of the quiz taken by Facebook users. The company reportedly knew about the data misuse in 2015 itself, but the issue became public only after the New York Times reported it. Further, Cambridge Analytica is majorly funded by Robert Mercer, who also made a donation to Trump’s election campaign.
On its part, the social networking firm said it had hired a digital forensics firm to investigate the data misuse, reported AFP. Forensics firm Stroz Friedberg would “conduct a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica,” the company said.
Brian Acton is not the first Facebook-related executive to have expressed such sentiments towards the social networking giant. In 2017, Facebook’s former head of growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, stirred up a controversy when he said: “We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
Sean Parker, Justin Rosenstein and investor Roger McNamee are other former executives, who expressed similar feelings towards the company, notes The Verge.
However, deleting only Facebook may not be a viable solution for those who want to escape from the social networking giant. Such users must also block other Facebook-owned apps such as WhatsApp and Instagram. Signal does portray itself as a secure alternative to WhatsApp. Acton also formed the Signal Foundation in collaboration with Moxie Marlinspike to develop open source privacy technology “that protects free expression and enables secure global communication.”
Acton’s history with Facebook dates back to 2009. At the time, he applied for a job with the social media giant, but was rejected. “Facebook turned me down,” he tweeted in 2009.
The #deleteFacebook hashtag has been trending on Twitter following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The #Delete movement is known to have done damage to reputations in the past. For instance, the #DeleteUber campaign witnessed over 200,000 Uber accounts deleted. This allowed rival Lyft’s popularity to surge manifold.
In separate news, Facebook shareholder Fan Yuan filed a lawsuit in San Francisco on Tuesday. The lawsuit represents an undisclosed number of investors, who bought Facebook stock between February 3, 2017, and March 19, 2018. The lawsuit claims that the company made “materially false and misleading statements” about their policies and also failed to reveal that it allows third parties to use the data without permission.
Such “wrongful acts and omissions” followed by the “precipitous” drop in the stock has resulted in significant losses and damages for the investors, the lawsuit claims.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal, said the company is fully committed to enforce their policies to protect user data. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens,” the executive said.
On Tuesday, Facebook shares closed down 2.56% at $168.15.