Is WhatsApp turning into billboards? WhatsApp chief clears the air on Meta’s ads plan

Priya Walia

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In an unexpected development this Friday, Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, has emphatically denied media reports that hinted at the potential introduction of advertisements on the globally popular messaging platform. Cathcart put his foot down on the matter, dispelling the rumors via his social media accounts.

A report from a reputed media outlet, FT, suggested that Meta-owned WhatsApp was contemplating adding advertisements to its chat platform. The information was put forth as a probable revenue-increasing strategy as the parent company continues to seek novel revenue streams.

However, Cathcart was quick to dismiss these claims. He straightaway jumped into the fray, taking to his social media handles to set the record straight. In a post that included the disputed FT story, Cathcart minced no words and succinctly stated:

“This @FT story is false. We aren’t doing this”

The previous reports had insinuated that internal teams within Meta were deliberating upon the possible display of ads within WhatsApp conversation lists. However, the reports stated that no final decision had been made, citing unnamed sources connected to the ongoing developments.

Intriguingly, the report did not stop at this point. It went further, stating that Meta was also mulling over the feasibility of an ad-free subscription service for the app. Nevertheless, the suggestion was reportedly opposed by many within the company. Cathcart dismissed all such suppositions in his statement unequivocally.

Offering a more comprehensive repudiation of the circulating reports, WhatsApp’s official statement to FT noted:

“We can’t account for every conversation someone had in our company, but we are not testing this, working on it, and it’s not our plan at all.”

So, for now, it appears that WhatsApp users can sigh in relief as the prospect of unsolicited ads continues to remain at bay. However, drawing any definitive conclusions about Meta’s future strategies for monetization won’t be wise.

The past week has also been tumultuous for other chat tools. A notable occurrence was the failure of Microsoft to circumvent closer scrutiny of its Teams video-conferencing app by the European Union.

The company’s proposition of separating its Teams service from its broader business software packages and selling it to customers separately at an annual discount proved insufficient to appease regulators, Bloomberg reported.