Whatsapp is adding a new feature called “Channels” that it says will be an extension “A simple, reliable and private way to receive important updates from people and organizations, right within WhatsApp.” It can be accessed from a new tab called Updates, which will also feature status messages from friends and family. The new feature will enable administrators to send texts, photos, videos, and stickers to their followers, in addition to conducting polls.
In a blog post announcing the new feature, WhatsApp He said These channels will be a one-way broadcast, which means that you will only be able to scroll through messages from other users, but not reply to them. WhatsApp will have a searchable channel directory to make it easier for users to choose which channels to follow based on their hobbies and interests. Users will also be able to access a channel from invitation links sent in chats, email or posted online.
WhatsApp claims Channels will be an extension “Most private streaming service available,” It will protect the personal information of both administrators and their followers. Each other’s phone number or profile picture will not be shown, and admins will also not be informed of other channels their followers subscribe to. To further improve user privacy, WhatsApp says it will delete channel updates from its servers after 30 days, promising to Add ways to make updates disappear faster from followers’ devices.
WhatsApp also says that admins will get the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channel. They will also have the ability to decide who can follow their channel and whether or not they want their channel to be discoverable in the directory. Channels won’t be end-to-end encrypted by default unlike standard WhatsApp messages, but Meta says it’s exploring whether to roll out encryption in specific cases where it could be beneficial, such as nonprofits or health organizations.
The channels are initially only rolling out in Colombia and Singapore, but Meta says it will be available in more countries “In the coming months.” Some of the organizations that have already signed up as launch partners include the Singapore Heart Foundation and its fact-checking initiative, Columbia Check. Others who have also jumped on the bandwagon include the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and European soccer clubs FC Barcelona and Manchester City, among others.