FACEBOOK is going to start filling WhatsApp with ads next year, against its co-founders wishes.
The company – currently grappling with the Facebook hack that hit 50million users – confirmed that ads would begin appearing in the app’s Status feature in 2019.
The Status feature is similar to Stories on Instagram and Facebook, letting users upload Snapchat-style pics and videos that can be viewed for 24 hours.
Facebook wants to interrupt some of these Statuses with short ads, although details are light.
WhatsApp’s co-founders were famously against ads, and supportive of encrypted messaging – two major reasons why the app has become so popular.
A WhatsApp spokesperson confirmed this change would take place next year, but said all messages would stay “end-to-end encrypted”.
Facebook bought WhatsApp back in 2014 for $22billion, making it one of the biggest tech acquisitions of all time.
But co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton weren’t fully aware of Facebook’s plans for WhatsApp in the long run.
Specifically, they didn’t realise Facebook wanted to start sharing data across platforms to help target ads at users.
Shortly after the buy-out, Facebook changed its terms of service to enable data-sharing between WhatsApp and Facebook.
The company was eventually fined for $122million by the European Union for misleading regulators about the buy-out.
Brian quit WhatsApp in September last year, and was followed by Jan in April 2018 – both citing differences with Facebook.
They were concerned over Facebook’s money-making vision for WhatsApp.
Both of their contracts allowed them to sell off their stocks if Facebook tried to monetise WhatsApp without their consent.
Brian inevitably left, but didn’t act on that clause – leaving $850million worth of shares behind.
In a new profile piece by Forbes, Brian said: “Targeted advertising is what makes me unhappy,”
He also said: “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit.
“I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.”
His latest Twitter post, sent way back on March 21, reads: “It is time. #deletefacebook.”
Just last month, Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos defended the potential use of ads on WhatsApp.
He wrote: “It is foolish to expect that FB shareholders are going to subsidise a free text/voice/video global communications network forever.
“Eventually, WhatsApp is going to need to generate revenue.
“This could come from directly charging for the service, it could come from advertising…”
A Facebook spokesperson said: “Thanks to the team’s relentless focus on building valuable features, WhatsApp is now an important part of over a billion people’s lives, and we’re excited about what the future holds.”
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Back in 2012, WhatsApp founder Jan revealed his distaste for advertising on tech services.
In a blog post, he explained: “These days companies know literally everything about you, your friends, your interests, and they use it all to sell ads.”
“At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends they day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect your personal data.
“Remember, when advertising is involved, you the user are the product.”
Do you think WhatsApp should have ads? Let us know in the comments!
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