"No one has any intention of advertising".

Eric Dolatre, CEO of the communication platform Brabbler, sees the announced adverts in WhatsApp as another warning shot for users. Supposedly free communication services are not to be trusted, he warns.


Brabbler from Munich fights for the protection of privacy on the Internet and currently feels involuntarily reminded of the old goatee. "No one has the intention of building a wall," assured GDR state and party leader Walter Ulbricht at a press conference on June 15, 1961. Less than two months later, as is well known, the construction of the Berlin Wall began after all.

"Granted: Facebook's decision to allow ads on WhatsApp starting in 2019 doesn't come close to the magnitude of the Berlin Wall," said Eric Dolatre, CEO of Brabbler. "Besides, in the WhatsApp case, it was different people who first made the promise and then broke it. That doesn't make it any better."

In 2012, the developers of WhatsApp had still assured that there would be no advertising in their app - because that would "disturb the aesthetics, insult the intelligence of the users and interrupt their thought processes". However, WhatsApp has since been bought out by Facebook Group for $19 billion. Now the group announced that companies will be able to place ads in WhatsApp from next year (Werbewoche.ch reported).

"Facebook has announced that it will not display any advertising in private chats for the time being, but only in the status area. In addition, users are supposed to be able to decide for themselves whether they want to see advertising or not. However, the emphasis here is probably on the little word for now to lay the groundwork. And you can see right now what promises are worth in the Facebook group," says Dolatre.

Supposedly free service

Either way, the announcement once again highlights Facebook's true business model. The supposedly free services of the company have to be paid dearly by the users - with the loss of their privacy. "Basically, the company is now just taking the next logical step with WhatsApp," said Brabbler's CEO. "So far, it has limited itself to spying on users and their environment by reading their contact and address data from their smartphone address book and using it for advertising purposes elsewhere. Now WhatsApp itself is becoming a platform for personal advertising, further invading users' privacy."

But Facebook is not alone in this. Rather, the company is representative of the many, mostly US-based providers of communication services that all pursue the same business model as Facebook. In order to save the privacy of users and, above all, of the next generation in the digital world, Dolatre therefore sees only one way out: there must finally be an end to the free-of-charge mentality.

"The development and operation of digital services and apps cause immense costs for the operator. If they don't get paid directly by the users, this automatically means that they get their money back via their data and through advertising. It is simply impossible to provide users with a protected private data space without data collection, profiling or advertising without a paid pricing model. The few euros per month that such a solution costs should actually be worth the users' privacy."

The solution Brabbler is advocating is obvious: The company of the former GMX founders offers a paid WhatsApp alternative for companies and private individuals. The focus is on data security and the protection of privacy. (hae/pd)

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