Thursday, September 7, 2017

Facebook to Monetize WhatsApp: How Will It Affect Consumers?

by Tracey Smidt

In 2014, social media giant Facebook bought the messaging app Whatsapp for $19 billion. Since then it has not yet tested monetizing the platform, preferring to make the app free and to increase its user base. However, in an interview with Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema discussed steps Facebook is taking to monetize Whatsapp.

According to Idema, Facebook has started a pilot program where users who opt in can communicate with businesses. The new tools on the app allows businesses to set up a profile which is verified by featuring a green badge next to the business' contact. This tool is currently being tested by small businesses. Facebook, however, will be providing two services, one for small businesses and another for large enterprises such as airlines, e-commerce sites and banks.

Although these steps are still in the initial stages of testing, Facebook intends to charge businesses for using the platform in future, but have yet to figure out when and how.

July saw Facebook monetizing its messenger app by placing ads in it. This could also indicate that ads are on the way for WhatsApp in the near future. Facebook has a history of invasive and potentially worrying privacy issues, such as the revelation that Facebook had been using its platform to test mood manipulation. Since WhatsApp has now grown to the world’s second largest social network, with over 1.2 billion users, it remains unclear how the massive amount of personal data which Facebook has accumulated will influence its business decisions with WhatsApp.

Will Facebook monetizing WhatsApp have an effect on your use of the app? Leave your comments below.