Facebook Exec Calls Out WhatsApp Co-Founder After Recent Claims

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In short: Long-term Facebook executive, David Marcus has now shared his own take on the lead-up to the departure of WhatsApp co-founder, Brian Acton from the company, following statements made by the former employee. Referring to Mr. Acton's statements as inaccurate, Mr. Marcus claims that pushback against end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp was never in service of the spread of advertising or data collection. CEO Mark Zuckerberg apparently intended to keep encryption in place to ensure that the application remains a truly private messaging app and that Zuckerberg actively defended that stance. What's more, the executive says that Facebook's plans for monetization of the app are not out of line with updates the company has already been rolling out. Mr. Marcus goes further to claim that Mr. Acton's resistance to disagreeable changes was passive-aggressive rather than proactive.

Background: The executive's statements on the matter are actually a follow-up to recent comments Mr. Acton made during an interview. Specifically, those centered around the former executive's decision to post calls for users to delete Facebook and his reasons for leaving to begin with. According to Mr. Acton, the social media giant had started to take the company in a monetization direction he did not agree with, prompting him to try and leave. The contractual agreement between the WhatsApp co-founder and Facebook did allow him to receive all of his stock grants under those conditions but Mr. Acton opted to leave without those when Facebook disputed the agreement terms. While not expressly stated by David Marcus, the company's refusal appears to have been primarily grounded in the way Mr. Acton's chose to resist change. Namely, he didn't actively argue his case but was passive-aggressive, resulting in a lackluster performance on his part and a big slow-down in WhatsApp projects. To then attack the company that made Mr. Acton a billionaire, Mr. Marcus says, is a "whole new standard of low-class."

Impact: While the statements made appear to be getting much more aggressive, the ongoing battle of words isn't likely to have much bearing on Facebook's plans for WhatsApp. In fact, its goals for monetizing the app will likely continue forward much more quickly now that at least one upper-level employee who was opposed to those changes is no longer with the company.

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