On Tuesday, Facebook confirmed that it will add autoplaying ads to its immensely popular chat app, Messenger. The move could affect Messenger’s 1.3 billion monthly users.
Quartz first reported on the changes, saying that the annoying ads are designed to catch users’ attention while they are chatting. Facebook first placed static ads in the chat app last summer. The ads will be personalized through the same strategies employed by the Facebook app and Instagram.
A spokesperson for the company said that autoplaying video ads will initially annoy only a portion of the Messenger population. This type of ads has generated a lot of cash for Facebook. So, the social media giant now wants to monetize the Messenger base too.
Facebook unveiled that it has conducted surveys across eight markets worldwide and around 80% of adult respondents admitted that they use Messenger or WhatsApp daily.
Messenger and WhatsApp are the most widely used messaging apps worldwide in terms of monthly active user,
the company concluded.
Critics Slam the Changes
Critics noted that the new invasive feature can only prove that Facebook users are the real product. The company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was accused of treating users as products during a congressional hearing in April.
In April, lawmakers grilled Zuckerberg over the massive data transfer to a Russia-linked analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica. The data on 87 million Facebook users reached the firm’s servers, without their consent.
Last week, the social media giant promised to add fresh restrictions to targeted advertising on Facebook starting July 2. Facebook users will be able to shut down some ads.
The company plans similar changes for Facebook Messenger. Users will see the message “Why am I seeing this Ad” over the ads so they can switch the annoying ads off manually.
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