Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Report: Facebook puts WhatsApp status advert plans on ice

Plans of adverts coming to WhatsApp’s status tab have been signposted for some time, but in a surprising about-face, it looks like Facebook has decided to cancel plans for the foreseeable future.

The news comes from The Wall Street Journal, the same paper that originally highlighted the company’s ambition back in 2018. The newspaper reports on sources “familiar with the matter” who say that the team responsible for putting ads into the platform had been disbanded in recent months. Indeed, the work they had already completed to date has been removed from the code.

Related: How to delete Facebook

While the report says that Facebook is only postponing plans to put adverts in WhatsApp’s status section rather than killing it entirely, in the short term the company plans to double down on building features for business users instead. This strategy has apparently impressed in its initial form, especially in developing nations where businesses have adopted WhatsApp quite enthusiastically.

This form of monetisation would likely have been less upsetting to WhatsApp’s two founders – Jan Koum and Brian Acton – who the Journal says exited in part due to unease at plans for advertising. Certainly in recent months the latter has been quite publically scathing about his old employers, joining in the #deletefacebook campaign in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.   

Related: WhatsApp tips and tricks

Despite this, Acton maintains he had no choice but to sell his app to Facebook back in 2014. “I had 50 employees, and I had to think about them and the money they would make from this sale,” he recently said in an appearance at Stanford University. “I had to think about our investors and I had to think about my minority stake. I didn’t have the full clout to say no if I wanted to.”

He ultimately described taking “a boatload of money” as a “rational choice.”

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.