Facebook, the social media giant, is apparently “backing away” from its original plan set back in 2018 to sell ads for placement on another widely popular messaging service – WhatsApp.
The Wall Street Journal states that a Facebook team had begun working on building and creating ads into the instant messaging app, but they had recently been dismissed, and all of their work had subsequently been “deleted from WhatsApp’s code.”
The journal also notes that Facebook is still aiming to integrate ads into the Status feature of WhatsApp, just like they once planned. However, for now, the app is going to remain ad-free.
The idea of incorporating ads into the app was to monetize it. Facebook had acquired WhatsApp back in 2014 for $22 billion. The monetization plan was what drove the co-founder of the app, Jan Koum, out of Facebook in 2018. Fellow co-founder, Brian Acton, had left months prior due to similar clashes regarding privacy and targeted advertising. Acton has been more vocal about unchecked power since he left the company.
The setback in advertising has caused Facebook to focus on WhatsApp features which would allow businesses and customers to communicate through the platform and the ability to organize those contacts. Acton and Koum were supposedly concerned that a commercial messaging feature would make WhatsApp weaken or reduce its end-to-end encryption.
In countries like India and Brazil, WhatsApp is used in small to medium-size sellers who rely on the platform to take orders and even to market their products.
This all occurred before the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, made plans last year to slowly shift from public posts to have a unified, encrypted messaging system across Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Bringing ads to an already encrypted service can come with challenges, and that is what the company is now discovering.