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WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum. Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images for Discovery

WhatsApp founder and chief executive Jan Koum is leaving the company more than four years after it was bought by Facebook following what the Washington Post, which broke the story, describes as fights with the social giant over data privacy issues.

Why it matters: Koum's departure comes as Facebook faces scrutiny from users and regulators over its treatment of consumer data — and right before its F8 developer conference.

What Koum is saying: "It's been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it's been an amazing journey with some of the best people," he said in a Facebook post. "But it is time for me to move on."

Backstory: WhatsApp has long made resistance to harvesting user data a part of its brand, and the instant messaging service encrypts users' messages by default. But Facebook has looked in recent years for ways to monetize the platform.

Friend request: Mark Zuckerberg responded to the goodbye note in a Facebook comment:

"I will miss working so closely with you. I'm grateful for everything you've done to help connect the world, and for everything you've taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people's hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp."

Our thought bubble: Most telling will be Facebook's actions, not Zuckerberg's words. It will be worth watching if Facebook uses encryption in more of its products, or if WhatsApp instead becomes more commercial along the lines of Facebook and Instagram.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”