Facebook Shelves Controversial Plan to Insert Ads into WhatsApp

Friday January 17, 2020 1:33 AM PST by Tim Hardwick

Facebook's controversial plan to sell ads in WhatsApp has been put on the back-burner, according to a new report today from The Wall Street Journal.

WhatsApp in recent months disbanded a team that had been established to find the best ways to integrate ads into the service, according to people familiar with the matter. The team's work was then deleted from WhatsApp's code, the people said.

Plans to monetize WhatsApp were floated no longer after Facebook acquired the messaging service in February 2014 for $22 billion. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum and Brian Acton continually pushed back against the plans, which were a factor that ultimately led both men to quit the company.

Prior to leaving, Koum and Acton changed WhatsApp's terms of service to explicitly forbid displaying ads in the app, which complicated Facebook's future efforts to do so, according to WSJ's sources.

Facebook has changed its platforms' terms of service in the past, but introducing ads on WhatsApp would have required a formal notification of users, creating a potential public-relations problem for Facebook.

Still, Facebook hasn't completely given up on inserting ads into WhatsApp, and reportedly plans to add them to the app's Status feature "at some point." Status allows users to create short-lived posts similar to Instagram's Stories.

However, for now the focus is said to be on developing money-making features that enable businesses to communicate with customers and better manage those interactions.

Before the acquisition, WhatsApp was initially a paid-for app and later transitioned to a $0.99 annual subscription service. Facebook made the service free after buying it and later unveiled its own revenue-generating plans for the platform, which has 1.5 billion users globally.

Top Rated Comments

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12 weeks ago
WhatsApp and Instagram were both so much better before Facebook bought them. Every single change to both apps since Zuckerberg got ahold of them have been negative and not user-friendly. I really hope Facebook eventually goes the way of MySpace but I fear it is too engrained into society at this point :(
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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12 weeks ago


WhatsApp and Instagram were both so much better before Facebook bought them. Every single change to both apps since Zuckerberg got ahold of them have been negative and not user-friendly. I really hope Facebook eventually goes the way of MySpace but I fear it is too engrained into society at this point :(

Failbook will never be as good as MySpace was.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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12 weeks ago
Whatsapp is one of those few most popular app in the world that hasn't got dark mode yet.
That's it, not related but I wanted to vent :)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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12 weeks ago
Nice to see. I'm sure that won't be the end of it though, while monetizing people's WhasApp connections (who you message / call and when - selling that to company's and presumably governments) is good for some money, Facebook will come back at this again...its their repeated history as a Company.

Have to laugh at the iMessage attack in the comments, just out of the blue - wasn't even discussed in the article or prior comments. Privacy is much greater with iMessage or Signal and for alot of people that has value - especially when you don't know what your government is going to be like in 10 years (as we've seen in recent years in many countries).
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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12 weeks ago

If ads appear in Whatsapp I'll be pushing hard for all my friends and family to switch to Telegram. I already use it with a section of my friends and family and it's a superior UX IMO.



I don't use Instagram. But I'm a heavy user of Whatsapp. What's gotten worse? I've not really noticed anything negative in terms of day to day use.

I’ve abandoned WhatsApp the minute the founders left. Been on signal since and enjoying life!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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12 weeks ago


I’ve abandoned WhatsApp the minute the founders left. Been on signal since and enjoying life!

I left the moment Zucker "call me the messiah" berg got involved.

People target their privacy stick pointing posts at Google on here all the time and yet Facebook somehow seems to get almost a free pass. The things they do with data are far more insidious and sinister, IMO.

For example, I don't have an account but thanks to their snooping of my friends, they know about me.

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/20/17254312/facebook-shadow-profiles-data-collection-non-users-mark-zuckerberg

And that is just what we have heard about.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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