Facebook accused of blocking advertisements – really?

Written by on January 15, 2016 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

2016.01.11In a turn of the tables, Indian Hike Messenger has accused Facebook of blocking some of its advertising.  Hike Messenger competes with the likes of Facebook’s own WhatsApp application/platform.

It was reported that the folks at Hike initially thought there was a technical issue related to some of its ads on Facebook, particularly the ones they directed traffic towards the app download page.  “Advertisers have, among other options, the option to ‘send people to your website’. A few weeks back we were suddenly blocked from using this option, while we were able to use other non action-led options,” a Hike spokesperson said.

When the folks at Hike Messenger contacted Facebook, they received the following response: “There are specific products and services that cannot be advertised on Facebook – looks like Hike is one of these. Unfortunately, you will not be able to run these ads.”

This comes over a month after Facebook-owned WhatsApp was found blocking links to another rival messaging app Telegram.

According to a recent report by Strategy Analytics, WhatsApp is expected to break the one billion user mark by mid-2016.  “After its acquisition by Facebook in 2014, WhatsApp’s strong user growth has not stalled, reaching 900 million in September 2015,” according to the report.

You would think the Internet mega-company wouldn’t need to resort to this kind of questionable behavior.  Hike Messenger currently has 70M users, respectable but hardly a threat to WhatsApp.  That is, until you consider the importance of India.  While once considered to be the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, Indian subscribers today represent the best growth opportunity for many in the online world.
Hike Messenger latest Facebook woes in India

India has been a hard nut to crack for Facebook (see here and here).  The Hike Messenger report will just add to the company’s woes on the sub-continent.  They are facing an uphill battle against local Net Neutrality activists concerning their Free Basics Internet.org program.  Mahesh Murthy, a venture capitalist and a campaigner with the volunteer group Save the Internet, called Facebook’s new initiative a “walled garden”. He told the Observer: “The Facebook plan falsely presents itself as the only option for India, that is to give a tiny part of the internet to some people.” Needless to say, Facebook are not backing off.  They have launched a rather aggressive campaign to convince Indians that they are only looking out for their best interests.

Maybe this is a good time for us to reinitiate the call.  OTT providers and all players in the online ecosystem, should be held to the same standards of consumer protection and regulations as telecom operators.  It is time to level the playing field before someone get hurt.

Read more at ETTelecom

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About the Author

About the Author: Jonathon has been lurking around the Telecoms and Internet space for the last 20 years. He is now a man on a mission – that being the reformation of the Industry Analyst business. He is working with his co-conspirators on transforming the Industry Analyst world forever as an Expert with EMI. .

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