Facebook has reportedly shelved the controversial decision of introducing ads in WhatsApp. According to the Wall Street Journal, the social media giant recently disbanded the team that was working to integrate ads into WhatsApp’s Status page. The team’s work has also been deleted from WhatsApp’s code.
In November 2018, Facebook unveiled plans to monetize WhatsApp by infusing ads on the Status page. That decision wasn’t liked by WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton and was a big factor in them leaving the company, WSJ says.
In a blog post in 2012, they called ads “insults to your intelligence” and said they wanted to “make something that wasn’t just another ad clearinghouse.”
Back in 2016, the founders changed WhatsApp’s terms of service to explicitly forbid displaying ads in the app. They even complicated any future efforts to do so.
The two surely tried their best to protect users’ privacy and interests but were eventually overruled by their new superiors at Menlo Park in California.
While Koum left Facebook just a few months before the company announced it’s plans of putting ads in Status, Acton left a year earlier, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal blew up. The duo left behind a combined $1.3 billion in deferred compensation.
“I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit,” said Acton in an interview with Forbes in 2018. “I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.”
Facebook, however, undeterred by any of this, continued with the plans and announced a 2020 launch last year. It now abandoning the plans has caught many by surprise.
Ads in WhatsApp still a possibility in future
Founded in 2009, WhatsApp initially charged a download fee and subscription fees of $0.99. Facebook acquired the service for a whopping $22 billion in 2014 and made it free soon after. The company likely always had plans to monetize it.
Though Whatsapp today is the most downloaded app in the world and has more than 1.5 billion people users globally, it has yet to pay financial dividends. Facebook, on the other hand, generates the majority of its revenues from advertising.
Ads accounted for about 98 percent of its revenue in the third quarter last year. No wonder the company wants to show adverts in WhatsApp too.
Facebook may have shelved the plans for now, but ads in WhatsApp Status still remain a possibility in the future. The efforts are “now on ice,” the WSJ report says. The company is currently working on to add more “money-making features” to WhatsApp for business users.