WhatsApp: Founder Jan Koum Says Your Data Won’t be Sold Off Following Facebook Deal

March 20, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

The WhatsApp founders this week have said that after the company’s sale to Facebook for $19 billion, users’ data won’t be sold off.

“Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of inaccurate and careless information circulating about what our future partnership would mean for WhatsApp users’ data and privacy,” said founder Jan Koum in a blog post.

“Above all else, I want to make sure you understand how deeply I value the principle of private communication,” he said, adding that since he was “born in Ukraine, and grew up in the USSR during the 1980s. One of my strongest memories from that time is a phrase I’d frequently hear when my mother was talking on the phone: ‘This is not a phone conversation; I’ll tell you in person.’ The fact that we couldn’t speak freely without the fear that our communications would be monitored by KGB is in part why we moved to the United States when I was a teenager.”

He added that his–and the company’s–respect for privacy is “coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible.”

“If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it. Instead, we are forming a partnership that would allow us to continue operating independently and autonomously. Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change. Our principles will not change. Everything that has made WhatsApp the leader in personal messaging will still be in place,” Koum continued.

According to Forbes, Koum is now worth approximately $6.8 billion after the deal a few weeks ago. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also published a statement about privacy, but it was more about the NSA’s surveillance, which was revealed by leaker Edward Snowden last year.

“Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform,” Zuckerberg wrote.