Till recently, friction seemed to mark WhatsApp’s relationship with the government. Not only did their views diverge on the encryption and traceability of messages, the Facebook-owned social media firm was glared at by New Delhi over the Pegasus spyware scandal. On Monday, WhatsApp sprang a surprise. It announced a bonanza of $250,000 for Indian startups aimed at aiding a government scheme, Startup India. WhatsApp says it will provide $500 worth of Facebook ad credits each to 500 new businesses approved by the Centre. These credits would help these firms attract prospective customers.

WhatsApp’s move could also help it kick-off an ad generation campaign within the country. This isn’t exactly philanthropy, in that sense, though it spells good news for startups in need of online publicity. For all the novel ideas that Indian entrepreneurs have, a large number have trouble getting their word out. Startup India offers governmental assistance. The app will offer new businesses not just internet reach, but presumably also the benefit of its back-end algorithms that work out what message is best aimed at whom. But will complaints against it go down? Maybe not.

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