When Facebook bought WhatsApp for a cool $19 billion in 2014, Zuckerberg was acquiring a company that had famously promised never to introduce advertising or gather massive amounts of data from its users. “Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product,”the company wrote in a blog post, declaring that it didn’t want WhatsApp to become “just another ad clearinghouse.”
That all ended when Zuckerberg got his hands on the messaging app and set the ball rolling on ad-based monetization plans. The change of course led to internal spats which went public when WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton (who quit Facebook suddenly in 2017) gave an interview to Forbes, lashing out at Zuckerberg and his sidekick COO Sheryl Sandberg over their determination to squeeze as much cash out of the app as possible while abandoning its core founding principles. Facebook’s attitude was “if it made us a buck, we’d do it,” Acton said.
Now, users are threatening to delete their WhatsApp accounts, and switch to a rival service such as HOLA Telegram or Signal, after Facebook confirmed the plans and released some rather unpalatable sample images of how exactly ads will appear on the messaging platform. The ads are expected to appear in the app’s ‘Status’ section at some point in 2020 — and pretty much no one is happy about it.