It looks like Facebook is calling takesies backsies on its current plan to include ads on WhatsApp‘s Status page sometime this year. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company recently disbanded the team it created to build adverts into WhatsApp and removed all of the related code. Unfortunately, WSJ says Facebook still most likely plans to bring ads to WhatsApp in the future, just at a much later date.
Facebook initially announced the plan in 2018 and confirmed a 2020 launch last year, but its recent actions assert the company is going in a different direction for the time being. Including ads in WhatsApp was an unpopular business strategy from the beginning. Even WhatsApp’s co-founder Brian Acton was uncomfortable with this, as well as several other ideas Facebook was planning to implement.
“I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit,” said Acton in a 2018 interview with Forbes. “I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.”
Acton left WhatsApp in 2017 due to his increased disagreements with Facebook regarding WhatsApp privacy concerns. Jan Koum — WhatsApp’s other co-founder — also left the company in 2018 during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Needless to say, WhatsApp’s users aren’t the only people upset with where Facebook has been taking the app.
By no means does Facebook going back on its current plan mean the company is becoming more privacy-friendly. It’s not clear why Facebook has decided to put its WhatsApp ads efforts on the back burner. All we know is the company appears to be shifting its current WhatsApp development focus to creating more robust features for its business users.