It’s been almost 5 years since Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $16 billion. The Social Media conglomerate had promised not to monetize the app within the first 5 years of purchase, which are quickly coming to an end. It seems like 2019 will bring with it WhatsApp Ads, a feature that isn’t being welcomed with open arms.
WhatsApp Ads in 2019 – What About User Privacy?
It looks like you might want to look into investing in other security measures if you want your communication to remain private even with the advent of targeted WhatsApp Ads.
WhatsApp Ads and the Change in Company Values
WhatsApp was, and for now still is, the pinnacle of End-to-End encrypted communication. The fact that it was free was the icing on the cake that allowed it to hit global popularity so quickly.
Co-Founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum have both spoken about their commitment to user privacy on several occasions. Despite that, both co-founders have left the company after facing moral problems with Facebook’s new attempt to monetize Whatsapp.
In a somewhat expected turn of events, Facebook announced that Whatsapp will be getting targeted ads come 2019. The ads will pop up on the app’s Status feature in a way similar to Instagram’s ads.
WhatsApp Ads – What it Means to Your Privacy
Many users are already threatening to drop the app entirely if the targeted ads start appearing. For most, it seemed that the problem had to deal with 2 different aspects: convenience and privacy.
A lot of users don’t want to use yet another platform that’s actively trying to sell them something. Others are terrified of what implementing targeted ads might do to the app’s E2E protocols. Targeted ads are just that…targeted. They require some form of data in order to satisfy the definition of the word. How will WhatsApp know what ad to show which user?
While we don’t really have an answer for that yet, the possibilities do sound exceptionally anti-privacy oriented. People will either have to sync their WhatsApp account with Facebook or start allowing WhatsApp to gather user data itself. If that happens, how will E2E encryption fall into that?
All hope is not lost, though. Some people are already pointing out how WhatsApp ads can be an opportunity to create a new business model. If the app manages to keep the E2E encryption and still implement revenue-producing ads, then it could mean a world of difference for e-services everywhere:
1) We need to keep E2E encryption legal in the financially relevant jurisdictions. That includes the US, the EU, and India at a minimum. (4/13)
It’s too early to say what targeted ads can add or remove from Whatsapp, although an iOS version might be showing up sooner than expected. It would be a shame for the world to lose one of the few free and private modes of communication. What do you think about WhatsApp Ads? Will you keep using the service?
A reader, writer, and avid internet user. Hiba has spent the better part of her adult life looking for ways to have a safer and more user-friendly online experience, all while praising the uses of VPN connections to anyone who would listen.