WhatsApp, the popular instant messaging platform, is introducing a new feature called “Channels” that aims to revolutionize the way users engage with one another. In a blog post, WhatsApp stated that Channels would be a broadcast-based service, allowing for one-to-many conversations and positioning itself as the “most private broadcasting service available.” This new feature will be accessible through the “Updates” tab, alongside regular chats and Status updates.
WhatsApp Channels will enable admins to send text messages, photos, videos, stickers, and polls to their followers. However, the one-way nature of Channels means that users won’t be able to reply to these messages. To address this, WhatsApp has introduced the dedicated ‘Updates’ tab to display messages from Channels and Status updates.
Users will be able to do Channels through direct links shared via chats, emails, or online posts. Additionally, WhatsApp is developing a searchable directory that will allow users to find Channels based on their interests, such as hobbies, sports teams, and updates from local officials. Users can easily join a Channel by clicking the ‘plus’ sign next to its name.
WhatsApp says, to ensure the privacy of users, phone numbers and profile photos of Channel admins are not shared with followers. Similarly, WhatsApp will store only 30 days of Channel history on its servers. Admins will have the option to block screenshots and forwards to maintain privacy and control over the content.
While Channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default, WhatsApp says it is exploring this possibility in the future.
The rollout of WhatsApp Channels is initially limited to Singapore and Colombia. The company has partnered with prominent international organizations like the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the World Health Organization (WHO), FC Barcelona, and Manchester City. Over the next few months, WhatsApp plans to expand its Channels to more countries and allow anyone to create their own Channel.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta (formerly Facebook), expressed his excitement about the launch of Channels, emphasizing the commitment to privacy. He stated, “We are starting in Singapore and Colombia but will roll out to everyone later this year. We’re building Channels to be the most private way to communicate.”