Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Meta, is also the owner of WhatsApp, an instant messaging service that is well-known for its end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp has generally avoided ads, but this could change as Instagram and Facebook have grown to be recognized for them. Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, has recently stated that advertisements aren’t totally off the table.
According to Cathcart, WhatsApp does not plan to include advertisements in the messenger’s inbox because doing so might take away from the “messaging experience” (via The Verge). This was stated in an interview with the Brazilian newspaper Folha De S. Paulo. However, the executive hinted that Channels would ultimately be able to charge users for subscriptions and did not completely rule out the possibility of adverts on the app. Owners may then choose to show advertisements inside of Channels.
This is not the first time Meta has thought of putting adverts on WhatsApp. The company experimented with the concept of introducing them to Status within the app back in 2018. Initially, the idea was to let company owners broadcast automated messages to platform users. But Meta changed strategy after expressing privacy concerns to WhatsApp users who use the messaging app because of its end-to-end encryption.
WhatsApp is still working to enhance the user experience even with the return to adverts. For instance, in October 2023, Meta revealed that WhatsApp would support numerous user accounts on a single smartphone. Additionally, passkey functionality was made available to users who wished to increase account security. Additional text formatting choices were introduced for messages, allowing code blocks to be used. Additionally, self-destructing audio notes were released, and WhatsApp stated that it was in the process of bringing voice message functionality for Channels to life.
Generally speaking, WhatsApp’s Channels feature is more recent. They first became generally available to consumers in September 2023 as a means of enabling people to broadcast messages to more audiences. Since then, Meta has updated Channels to create a more engaging user experience; future changes to this could be influenced by the placement of advertisements by Channel owners.
If you use WhatsApp, you have probably already noticed a large number of these updates. The move toward commercial integration may be a big turnoff, depending on your motivation for using the instant messaging service. However, WhatsApp continues to be among the most reliable, safe, and cost-free instant messaging apps. It will be interesting to see how much Meta plans to keep cost-free as these changes are put into place.