WhatsApp’s Facebook data sharing update also says that it will start sending ads to users

A deal to let Facebook start hoovering up WhatsApp user data has dominated the headlines – but something potentially more intrusive is hiding in the same update

Nadeem Masihm was charged with blasphemy for allegedly sending his friend a poem on WhatsApp that was derogatory about the Prophet Muhammad
Nadeem Masihm was charged with blasphemy for allegedly sending his friend a poem on WhatsApp that was derogatory about the Prophet Muhammad

WhatsApp’s hugely controversial new terms that allow it to share information with Facebook also announce that it will start showing ads to users.

In a move that has long been expected but hasn’t yet come into effect, the app is going to start pushing advertising into people’s app.

The announcement came alongside a far more controversial and noted change to the app, which let it send information about what its users are doing to Facebook. That change has ignited controversy since it was announced, sparking anger from users and even investigations by authorities.

But another, similar change makes clear that ads will soon be coming to the app.

WhatsApp said that the ads won’t be intrusive or spam. Instead they will likely come from businesses that people have interacted with, in the same way that has been mentioned as a way of potentially making money from Facebook Messenger.

“People use our app every day to keep in touch with the friends and loved ones who matter to them, and this isn't changing” a blog post read. “But as we announced earlier this year, we want to explore ways for you to communicate with businesses that matter to you too, while still giving you an experience without third-party banner ads and spam.

“Whether it's hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls. We want to test these features in the next several months, but need to update our terms and privacy policy to do so.”

WhatsApp lets users opt out of the new terms, but it isn't clear whether that will stop the ads from appearing in the app.

WhatsApp encryption in 60 seconds

WhatsApp has never before used ads, and used to make money by charging a one-off or recurring fee to its users. That fee has since been dropped and so it has long been expected that Facebook may look to marketing as a way of making money from the company that it bought for $19 billion in 2014.

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