WhatsApp ‘backs away’ from controversial plans to use adverts on its app

It was one of its most controversial proposed features, but it seems that WhatsApp is ‘backing away’ from using adverts on the app.

A new report by The Wall Street Journal suggests that Facebook , which owns WhatApp, is retreating from the plan.

The report sites ‘people familiar with the matter’, and says: “WhatsApp in recent months disbanded a team that had been established to find the best ways to integrate ads into the service.”

The team’s work was then ‘deleted from WhatsApp’s code’, according to the report.

The decision to include ads was originally confirmed by Facebook in 2018, and caused controversy because it went directly against the wishes of Brian Acton and Jan Koum, who founded WhatsApp in 2009.

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When it launched, WhatsApp was offered as a paid-for app. Users would pay an up-front fee to download it and messaging was then free.

In 2013 the company made the app free but added a $1 per year (around £0.70) fee to use the service.

WhatsApp was purchased by  Facebook  in 2014 and, in a blog written prior to the Facebook acquisiton, Acton and Koum promised the app wouldn't become "just another ad clearinghouse”.

However, in 2016 WhatsApp announced that it would no longer charge a fee for the service, leaving no clear way for the company to make money.

Acton and Koum both quit the firm last year, after the news emerged that Facebook was planning to monetise the app by selling services to business and advertising.

Acton said he had to leave because Mark Zuckerberg's rush to make money from the app was making him “unhappy”.

Mirror Online has contacted WhatsApp for comment.

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