One of the co-founders of messaging app WhatsApp has jumped on the #deletefacebook train and urged us to get rid of it.
This comes as the Cambridge Analytica scandal gathers momentum and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been asked to testify in front of a UK parliamentary committee to address the allegations of data misuse. For a simple, fascinating explainer of everything so far, read our piece on the Black Mirror style saga, where 50 million people’s data has allegedly been used to swing elections such as the 2016 US presidential race and everyone’s favourite, Brexit.
The revelation of the alleged data breach has prompted a #deletefacebook hashtag, urging users to get rid of their accounts, for fears that Cambridge Analytica is only one of a whole host of companies using our data without permission.
You know it’s bad, however, when even the co-founder of WhatsApp is urging people to stop using the platform. Brian Acton, along with business partner Jan Koum, founded the instant messaging app in 2009, and Facebook bought them out in 2014 for $19 billion. So for Acton (who no longer works at Whatsapp) to tweet this is a bit worrying:
Acton left the company earlier this year to start his own not-for-profit foundation, which sounds like he might have had a crisis of conscience.
He has also invested $50 million into a new messaging app Signal, which is independently owned, in a bid to increase privacy and encrypted messaging.
This is probably a move in the right direction isn’t it? But, nonetheless, it’s quite a scary development that a man who has, up until recently, been a big part of the whole machine, is now urging us to get rid of it. He knows All The Bad Things.
He’s not the first big Silicon Valley name to denounce social media either. In 2017, former head of growth at Facebook, Chamath Palihapitiya, said the the platform was ’ripping society apart.’ Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, also expressed distaste at Facebook for “exploit[ing] a vulnerability in human psychology.”
As for us, all we can do is watch the drama unfold like an episode of our favourite dystopian drama and see what happens (and maybe #deletefacebook).