WhatsApp co-founder tells Facebook users to delete their accounts

A finger reaching to delete Facebook app from smartphone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Brian Acton, one of the co-founders of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, has taken to Twitter to advise his followers to delete their Facebook accounts amid the scandal of 50 million people's Facebook profiles allegedly being misused to influence the outcome of the 2016 US election.

In a brief message, Acton, who has almost 26,000 followers, added his voice to the #deletefacebook call to action.

It is his first tweet in almost a year and has garnered a wide range of responses. While most are positive, some have pointed out that he profited personally from selling WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014 (the total transaction value was $19 billion). Following the sale, he stayed with Facebook as part of WhatsApp for a number of years, before joining the non-profit Signal Foundation, dedicated to open source privacy-focused communication, in September 2017.

Acton does, however, seem to have followed his own advice as IT Pro could find no active profile for him on Facebook at the time of writing.

Calls for users to delete their Facebook account have arisen following a data-sharing scandal that broke earlier this week. Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based data mining and analytics firm, allegedly used information taken from around 50 million Facebook users' profiles without their consent, after their friends on the social media platform used apps allowed the creator (normally a third-party associated with Cambridge Analytica) to access not only their own data but that of their connections. A whistleblower claimed the information was used to build sophisticated models to target US voters during the presidential election in order to persuade them to vote for Donald Trump.

It's possible that the data mining may have been in breach of the Data Protection Act, even though it may not have broken Facebook's rules with regards to data collection under its API terms and conditions as they were in 2015, when the incident took place.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now facing calls from both the US Congress and UK MPs to appear before official committees to answer questions on the revelations.

WhatsApp recently agreed to suspend any sharing of personal data between itself and its parent company after the UK data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office, said it had no legal grounds to share such information.

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.