More than a year after WhatsApp’s founders resigned in protest, Facebook is backtracking on its plans to include ads in the messaging app, according to The Wall Street Journal.
WhatsApp’s founders, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, were so strongly opposed to ads being implemented in the app that “the two changed WhatsApp’s terms of service to explicitly forbid displaying ads in the app, and complicating any future efforts to do so,” people familiar with the matter told the WSJ.
When Facebook acquired WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg said he agreed that ads were not a good fit for messaging platforms. Eventually, however, Facebook starting looking for ways to recoup the $22 billion price tag and put ads on the table. Koum and Acton’s response were likely an effort to stave off Facebook’s changing views.
As Facebook became more determined to implement ads, the two founders decided to part ways with the company, leaving “a combined $1.3 billion in deferred compensation” on the table.
Now, it appears that Facebook has again had a change of heart. According to the WSJ, the team responsible for figuring out how to best integrate ads into WhatsApp has been disbanded, and “the team’s work was then deleted from WhatsApp’s code.”
Instead, WhatsApp is focusing on commercial interactions, since the messaging service is increasingly being used by companies to provide customer service. This opens all new ways for Facebook to monetize the platform without undermining the privacy and security that made it what it is today.