Facebook stops plans to put ads on WhatsApp

cell phone

In 2019, it was announced at the Facebook Marketing Summit that advertisements would be appearing in WhatsApp Status. Recently, Facebook disclosed it has quit plans to start posting ads on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp will bring Stories Ads in its status product in 2020. #FMS19 pic.twitter.com/OI3TWMmfKj

— Olivier Ponteville (@Olivier_Ptv) May 21, 2019

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the team that was set up to work on integrating ads to the app were dissolved and as a result, their work was “deleted from WhatsApp’s code”. Though the app up to this time is ad-free, Facebook still plans to harmonise ads into WhatsApp’s Status feature.

The report further said that Facebooks’s plan to monetise WhatsApp is part of what made WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum exit the company in 2018 and closely followed months after by his fellow co-founder Brian Acton.

Also, the drawback in putting ads on WhatsApp has led Facebook to alternatively focus on WhatsApp features that will “allow businesses to communicate with customers and organize those contacts.”

Acquired for $22 billion (₦7,974,956,000) in 2014 by Facebook, WhatsApp is one of the most used social media platforms in the world and in Nigeria especially, according to a report. And with new features been added to the Facebook-owned apps, it may seem that the company is unrelenting in making its platform indispensable.

It can be recalled that in 2019, Facebook introduced ‘catalogs’ to its WhatsApp Business app and also Facebook Pay to the market. Although, these features are yet to be available in the African market.

Presuming that ads on WhatsApp would be ultimately launched, the WhatsApp status feature which was copied from Snapchat stories might be carrying ads in between the status just like Instagram stories.

On a brighter note, ads in between WhatsApp stories would be of an advantage to small business owners who already use their WhatsApp status as a tool to market their services. Additionally, these businesses could also create ads to target their prospective customers on the app.

It would also be another huge source of revenue for Facebook as WhatsApp is yet to be monetised while Facebook and Instagram are already generating revenue for the company via customer replies through its new WhatsApp Business API, Facebook Marketplace, ads placement on Instagram and so on.

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Woman in Tech | I write about social media and internet culture | Photography enthusiast.

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Phone Numbers Of 267 Million Facebook Users Exposed Online In A Data Breach

Millions of Facebook users have had their data being exposed online. This follows a discovery by security researchers who found an unsecured database containing personal details to 267 million Facebook users. The database was reportedly left open for nearly two weeks.

It was first discovered on 14th December but was first indexed on 4th December.

The database contained personal information of users ranging from full names, phone numbers, and Facebook user IDs. Other details like payment information are said not to have been exposed.

The team – security researcher Bob Diachenko along with Comparitech, said that they discovered an unsecured Elasticsearch database rich in personal details of millions of Facebook users. The most affected users reside in the US. Users who have not set their profiles to private have been said to be the most affected ones.

The team already notified the host of the database, who has since pulled it offline. These data had already been shared on a hacker forum two days after it first appeared online on Dec 12th, according to Diachenko.

It is not yet known how these data were obtained, but the first theory trying to explain this is that the data may have been stolen from Facebook’s developer API. If that is true, then this might have happened before the company restricted developer access to users’ personal data like phone numbers in 2018.

Another way this data could have been obtained is through scraping. Or, the Facebook API may have a glitch that could still let developers access this type of data from users.

“A database this big is likely to be used for phishing and spam, particularly via SMS,” Diachenko said. “Facebook users should be on the lookout for suspicious text messages. Even if the sender knows your name or some basic information about you, be skeptical of any unsolicited messages.”

The researchers recommend that users should update their privacy settings to private which decreases the chance of their data being scraped.

Facebook has not commented on the matter, to date. This is, however, not the first time this is happening. Back in September, discovered an open server with hundreds of millions of phone numbers belonging to Facebook users.

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Facebook, free speech, and political ads – Columbia Journalism Review

A number of Facebook’s recent decisions have fueled a criticism that continues to follow the company, including the decision not to fact-check political advertising and the inclusion of Breitbart News in the company’s new “trusted sources” News tab. These controversies were stoked even further by Mark Zuckerberg’s speech at Georgetown University last week, where he tried—mostly unsuccessfully—to portray Facebook as a defender of free speech. CJR thought all of these topics were worth discussing with free-speech experts and researchers who focus on the power of platforms like Facebook, so we convened an interview series this week on our Galley discussion platform, featuring guests like Alex Stamos, former chief technology officer of Facebook, veteran tech journalist Kara Swisher, Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain, and Stanford researcher Kate Klonick.

Stamos, one of the first to raise the issue of potential Russian government involvement on Facebook’s platform while he was the head of security there, said he had a number of issues with Zuckerberg’s speech, including the fact that he “compressed all of the different products into this one blob he called Facebook. That’s not a useful frame for pretty much any discussion of how to handle speech issues.” Stamos said the News tab is arguably a completely new category of product, a curated and in some cases paid-for selection of media, and that this means the company has much more responsibility for what appears there. Stamos also said that there are “dozens of Cambridge Analyticas operating today collecting sensitive data on individuals and using it to target ads for political campaigns. They just aren’t dumb enough to get their data through breaking an API agreement with Facebook.”

Ellen Goodman, co-founder of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law, said that Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the first to have to struggle with tensions between free speech and democratic discourse, “it’s just that he’s confronting these questions without any connection to press traditions, with only recent acknowledgment that he runs a media company, in the absence of any regulation, and with his hands on personal data and technical affordances that enable microtargeting.” Kate Klonick of Stanford said Zuckerberg spoke glowingly about early First Amendment cases, but got one of the most famous—NYT v Sullivan—wrong. “The case really stands for the idea of tolerating even untrue speech in order to empower citizens to criticize political figures,” Klonick said. “It is not about privileging political figures’ speech, which of course is exactly what the new Facebook policies do.”

Evelyn Douek, a doctoral student at Harvard Law and an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center For Internet & Society, said most of Zuckerberg’s statements about his commitment to free speech were based on the old idea of a marketplace of ideas being the best path to truth. This metaphor has always been questionable, Douek says, “but it makes no sense at all in a world where Facebook constructs, tilts, distorts the marketplace with its algorithms that favor a certain kind of content.” She said Facebook’s amplification of certain kinds of information via the News Feed algorithm “is a cause of a lot of the unease with our current situation, especially because of the lack of transparency.” EFF director Jillian York said the political ad issue is a tricky one. “I do think that fact-checking political ads is important, but is this company capable of that? These days, I lean toward thinking that maybe Facebook just isn’t the right place for political advertising at all.”

Swisher said: “The problem is that this is both a media company, a telephone company and a tech company. As it is architected, it is impossible to govern. Out of convenience we have handed over the keys to them and we are cheap dates for doing so. You get a free map and quick delivery? They get billions and control the world.” Zittrain said the political ad fact-checking controversy is about more than just a difficult product feature. “Evaluating ads for truth is not a mere customer service issue that’s solvable by hiring more generic content staffers,” he said. “The real issue is that a single company controls far too much speech of a particular kind, and thus has too much power.” Dipayan Ghosh, who runs the Platform Accountability Project at Harvard, warned that Facebook’s policy to allow misinformation in political ads means a politician “will have the opportunity to engage in coordinated disinformation operations in precisely the same manner that the Russian disinformation agents did in 2016.”

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