Meta’s WhatsApp launched its new broadcast feature called Channels in India and more than 150 countries. Much like the Broadcast channel feature on Instagram, WhatsApp now enables users to engage with their connections through one-way channels, facilitating the sending of messages to large groups of recipients.
WhatsApp has highlighted that Channels operate independently from the regular chats, ensuring that the identities of those who choose to follow remain confidential to other followers.
Channels serve as a unidirectional broadcasting tool, allowing administrators to share text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls while safeguarding the privacy of both administrators and followers.
“We’re excited to share the news that we’re launching WhatsApp Channels in India and over 150 countries. WhatsApp Channels are a one-way broadcast tool and deliver a private way to receive updates from people and organisations that matter to you, right within WhatsApp,” notes WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is introducing its new Channels feature in a dedicated tab called “Updates.” Here, users will be able to access Status updates and the channels they choose to follow, keeping them separate from their conversations with family, friends, and communities. Additionally, users can access channels through invitation links shared in chats, emails, or posted online.
The platform further notes that as the feature is being expanded globally, it is also introducing new updates to Channels with the aim of enhancing the functionality and user experience.
Enhanced Directory: Users can now discover channels though the searchable directory that is automatically filtered by country. Users can also browse channels based on their activity level, popularity, or newness.
Reactions: Similar to how users can react in Instagram broadcast channels, in WhatsApp Channels too, users can react to updates and express feedback using emoji. The total number of reactions will be displayed, but the admin’s individual reactions will not be visible to followers.
Editing: Admins will soon have the ability to edit their updates for a period of up to 30 days before they are automatically deleted from WhatsApp’s servers.
Forwarding: Whenever an admin will forward an Update to chats or groups, it will include a link back to the channel, allowing people to easily find more information.
Meanwhile, to prevent the accumulation of messages in channels, WhatsApp will retain channel history on its servers for a maximum of 30 days. The company is also working on implementing features to make updates disappear even more quickly from followers’ devices. Additionally, administrators will have the option to prevent screenshots and forwards from being taken within their channels.
In addition, WhatsApp is also giving administrators control over who can follow their channel and whether they want their channel to be discoverable in the directory. It is important to note that, by default, channels are not end-to-end encrypted. This is because the primary goal of channels is to reach a wide audience.
In the blog post further WhatsApp acknowledges that there may be cases where end-to-end encrypted channels for a limited audience, such as nonprofit organizations or health institutions, could be beneficial. The company is considering this as a potential future option.