Instant messaging app WhatsApp will reportedly carry adverts from 2019 as parent Facebook seeks a return on the billions of dollars it spent acquiring the business in 2014.

Forbes reported WhatsApp will begin to show targeted ads in its Status feature and there are plans to roll out marketing messages to its business client in the future.

Four years since the acquisition, Facebook has kept WhatsApp ad-free, but the social media giant is now reportedly seeking to monetise the platform. Advertising on the main Facebook app generates a huge bulk of the company’s revenue, which amounted to $41 billion in 2017.

Facebook has “no plans to change” current encryption of messages, a representative told Forbes.

However, security experts cited by Forbes said Facebook could still be able to extract keywords from private user messages, which could be used for generating targeted ads on WhatsApp even if end-to-end encryption is in place.

Founder disputes
Pushing ads on WhatsApp was reportedly a bone of contention between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who left the messaging platform in September 2017.

Acton told Forbes in an interview last week that one of the reasons for his departure was his reluctance to monetise WhatsApp through advertising, which created conflict with Facebook’s management.

Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s other co-founder, left in May for similar reasons.

The founders of another high-profile Facebook acquisition, Instagram, left the company last week, also reportedly due to disagreements with Zuckerberg.