WhatsApp could be getting ads

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

WhatsApp might be getting ads, according to its boss.

The company has categorically ruled out that it would be put advertising in the inbox. But it might come elsewhere in the app, such as WhatsApp’s “Status” feature, which works like Instagram stories.

WhatsApp has long resisted introducing ads to any part of its platform. That sets it apart from other Meta platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, which heavily integrate advertising.

WhatsApp has long been rumoured to be considering putting ads into its app, with rumours stretching back as long as five years ago. But it has largely resisted the temptation, in part because of worries about whether it would concern privacy-conscious users, whom WhatsApp has particularly targeted.

In September, the Financial Times reported that it was looking at changing that. The company was evaluating whether it would work to show ads in the conversation list, the paper reported.

Meta outright denied that it had been testing or working on that feature, or that it planned to. “We aren’t doing this,” WhatsApp head Will Cathcart said on Twitter.

But in an interview with Brazilian newspaper Folha De S.Paulo, Mr Cathcart was asked whether the app would continue to be free and not show ads. And he said that some ads might come to other parts of the platform.

The app will not put ads within the “messaging experience”, such as the inbox or chats themselves. Instead, it could come in other parts of the app, such as the Status feature as well as the new Channels tool that allows people to subscribe to messages from creators.

The company could also introduce the option to charge people to subscribe to those channels, he said. That could also be advertised within those Channels.

He did not give any firm information about when the feature would arrive, or any commitment that it would actually be introduced.