WhatsApp launches Channels - a new private broadcast tool for important updates
Meta-owned popular messaging platform WhatsApp has launched Channels - a new tool to provide users with a simple, reliable, and private way to receive important updates from people and organizations they choose to follow.
The new feature will be available in a separate tab called Updates, which will include Status and the channels, keeping them separate from regular chats with family, friends, and communities.
Channels on WhatsApp will function as a one-way broadcast tool, allowing admins to send various types of content such as text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls to their followers. To assist users in finding relevant channels, WhatsApp is also developing a searchable directory that will include a wide range of options, including hobbies, sports teams, and updates from local officials. Additionally, users can access channels via invite links sent in chats, emails, or posted online.
WhatsApp Channels will prioritize the protection of personal information for both admins and followers. Admins' phone numbers and profile photos will not be visible to followers, and following a channel will not reveal the follower's phone number to the admin or other followers. The choice of whom to follow will remain entirely private and under the user's control, the platform said on Thursday.
Channel history will only be stored on WhatsApp servers for up to 30 days, and the company plans to implement features that allow updates to disappear even faster from followers' devices. Furthermore, admins will have the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channel to maintain greater control over the content.
To further enhance privacy, admins will be able to decide who can follow their channel and whether their channel should be discoverable in the directory. While Channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default, WhatsApp is exploring the possibility of introducing end-to-end encryption for channels that cater to a limited audience, such as non-profit or health organizations.
WhatsApp plans to kick off Channels by partnering with leading global voices and select organizations in Colombia and Singapore, where the feature will be initially available. Channels will gradually roll out to more countries, and in the coming months, anyone will have the ability to create their own channel.
Despite the introduction of Channels, WhatsApp assures users that the core functionality of private messaging among friends, family, and communities will remain a top priority.