Facebook is moving away from its controversial plans to sell ads in WhatsApp, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The report says that Facebook has “disbanded” the team that was leading efforts to find the best way to integrates ads into the service.
The report explains that in addition to the team working on this project being disbanded, the work that had already been completed has been completely removed from WhatsApp’s code. This marks a major shift in Facebook’s strategy for monetizing WhatsApp, which once charged an annual subscription fee. Facebook made the service completely free following its acquisition.
Facebook’s idea to integrate ads into WhatsApp was controversial from the beginning. The initiative caused a such a major strife between WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton and Facebook leadership that Koum and Acton departed the company entirely.
It’s not all good news, though. Facebook is still planning, at some point, to integrate ads into the Status function of WhatsApp, which is an ephemeral sharing feature similar to Instagram and Snapchat stories. While this is reportedly still on the roadmap, it seems to be a longer-term focus. “Those efforts are now on ice. The company plans at some point to introduce ads to Status,” the report says.
Facebook’s current focus for WhatsApp, according to today’s report, is “building out money-making features allowing businesses to communicate with customers and better manage those interactions.” What exactly those money-making features will be remains to be seen.
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