Skip to main content

WhatsApp: Facebook shelves plan to fill app with ads, report claims

WhatsApp’s more than a billion users will be pleased to know they won’t be confronted with endless ads on the messaging app anytime soon.

Its parent company, Facebook, has backpedaled on its plan to incorporate ads into the app, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal this week.

It’s not clear what led to the decision to shelve the plan, but according to the Journal, the team that had been working on the idea has recently been disbanded, with their work apparently deleted from WhatsApp’s code.

Two years ago, a WhatsApp executive said it was aiming to incorporate ads into the app’s Stories-like Status feature, but this week’s report suggests any such move is now a long way from happening. If it ever does.

Interestingly, the Journal says that the plan to put ads into the Status feature was a significant factor in the departure of the app’s two co-founders — Brian Acton, who left in 2017, and Jan Koum, who quit the following year. At the time, most reports put their departure down to Facebook’s reported desire to make use of WhatsApp’s user data, as well as fears that the parent company might weaken WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption through the launch of new business tools for the app.

Acton and Koum were well known to be against amassing user data and putting ads on their messaging platform, an approach that was markedly different from its owner. That’s why the pair demanded assurances from Facebook when the social networking giant offered to acquire the messaging app for an astonishing $19 billion in 2014, five years after its launch.

But a couple of years after the acquisition, WhatsApp ditched its only source of revenue — a $1 annual fee — raising concerns that Facebook was looking to monetize the app with ads. A while later, reports surfaced that Acton and Koum felt unnerved about the direction in which Facebook was taking the company, prompting the founders to walk out.

For the time being at least, it appears Facebook is putting its efforts into developing new features for WhatsApp aimed at helping businesses and customers to connect with one another.

It’s impossible to say that ads will never show up on WhatsApp, but this week’s news suggests that the messaging platform will stay ad-free for the foreseeable future.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
WhatsApp finally lets you edit sent messages. Here’s how to do it
WhatsApp logo on a phone.

WhatsApp has announced a much-requested edit feature that lets you alter a message within 15 minutes of sending it.

“From correcting a simple misspelling to adding extra context to a message, we’re excited to bring you more control over your chats,” Meta-owned WhatsApp said in a blog post introducing the handy feature.

Read more
What is WhatsApp? How to use the app, tips, tricks, and more
WhatsApp logo on a phone.

There’s been no shortage of instant messaging apps over the past decade, as the rise of advanced smartphone platforms has created the need for more sophisticated ways to communicate than traditional SMS text messages allowed for.

In fact, the Apple App Store and Google Play Store are both littered with apps that promised to be the next big thing in mobile communications. Yet, many of those fell by the wayside as they failed to achieve the critical mass of users needed to make them useful. After all, apps designed for communicating with others don’t do you much good unless enough folks are using them. Luckily, WhatsApp made our list of the best iPhone Apps and our infamous list of the best Android apps out there.

Read more
Meta is planning a fresh round of job cuts, report claims
A silhouetted person holds a smartphone displaying the Facebook logo. They are standing in front of a sign showing the Meta logo.

Meta is planning to embark on another round of job cuts that could see “thousands” of positions go, according to a Bloomberg report on Monday.

The efficiency cuts would follow mass layoffs in November when the California-based company shed 11,000 jobs globally, equal to about 13% of its workforce.

Read more