Facebook in February 2014 announced plans to acquire popular mobile messaging app WhatsApp for a combined total of $19 billion.
"We want to make clear that, regardless of the acquisition, WhatsApp must continue to honor [its privacy promises] to consumers."
The FTC told both Facebook and WhatsApp that they must notify consumers of any major changes to their privacy policies lest they face regulatory action.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 1 that EU regulators have sent a "detailed questionnaire" of around 70 questions to competitors and customers of Facebook and WhatsApp in an effort to better understand how the proposed deal may affect the messaging landscape. A Sept. 8 deadline was set for replies.
EU regulators said Sept. 1 that they will decide by Oct. 3 whether or not to approve the proposed deal. Facebook has said that it expects the acquisition of WhatsApp to close by the end of 2014.
Jan Koum, the co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp, said March 17 that his company's privacy policies will not change as a result of its acquisition by Facebook. Koum and WhatsApp had been under pressure to clarify exactly how -- if at all -- the Facebook acquisition would change how WhatsApp treats user data.
"I was born in Ukraine, and grew up in the USSR during the 1980s… 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."
Koum said that the Facebook acquisition "will not compromise the vision" that made WhatsApp so successful in the first place, noting that the company prides itself in knowing as little as possible about its users.
Telegram, a messaging app that emphasizes privacy and security, was downloaded 8 million times after Facebook announced that it would acquire WhatsApp.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy asked the Federal Trade Commission March 6 to investigate Facebook's proposed acquisition of WhatsApp over concerns that the deal will "violate WhatsApp users' understanding" of how their data will ultimately be used.
"WhatsApp had every option in the world, so I'm thrilled that they chose to work with us. I'm looking forward to what Facebook and WhatsApp can do together, and to developing great new mobile services that give people even more options for connecting."
Zuckerberg said on the conference call announcing the proposed acquisition that WhatsApp "doesn't get as much attention in the US as it deserves" because most of its growth thus far has occurred overseas. Zuckerberg said the first talks between Facebook and WhatsApp occurred on Feb. 9.
Copyright 2014 Reuters
Speaking during the opening keynote address of Mobile World Congress 2014, Mark Zuckerberg said WhatsApp is "worth more than $19 billion" and called the proposed acquisition "quite a good bet" for the company. Zuckerberg added that Facebook was "probably done for a while" with acquisitions.
WhatsApp, which is available for most major smartphone platforms, lets users send messages to each other using a data connection, which in some markets is less expensive than sending a traditional SMS text message.
WhatsApp was first released in 2009 and currently has 500 million monthly active users. Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly said on the Feb. 19 conference call that he believes WhatsApp will quickly grow to 1 billion monthly active users.
"WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently… There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product."
WhatsApp, which had 32 engineers at the time of the acquisition announcement, said it will not introduce advertising and will continue as a fee-based service. Koum will join Facebook's board of directors as part of the deal.
Facebook said July 29 that it had begun the final phaseout of the chat feature from its main app, in an effort to divert users to its standalone Messenger app. Chat was first dropped from the main app in Europe in April. Facebook noted that users send more group messages, photos, and other media while using Messenger, and that users reply about 20% faster using the standalone app.
Copyright 2014 Reuters
Google on Feb. 26 denied ever having made a bid for WhatsApp, with Android chief Sundar Pichai saying during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that press reports to the contrary "are simply untrue." Fortune reported Feb. 20 that Google had offered as much as $10 billion for WhatsApp.