WhatsApp has introduced a new feature called “Channels,” which allows users to receive updates from people and organizations in a simple, reliable, and private way.
These updates will be delivered in a separate tab called “Updates,” distinct from regular chats with friends and family.
Channels are designed as a one-way broadcast tool for administrators to send various types of content, including text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. To help users discover channels of interest, WhatsApp is building a searchable directory where users can find channels related to their hobbies, sports teams, local news, and more. Users can also join channels through invite links shared in chats, emails, or online.
WhatsApp is committed to ensuring user privacy with Channels. As a channel admin, your phone number and profile photo will not be visible to followers. Similarly, following a channel will not reveal your phone number to the admin or other followers. WhatsApp aims to make the channel-following experience private and secure.
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Channel updates will not be stored indefinitely. WhatsApp will retain channel history on its servers for up to 30 days, and there will be options for admins to make updates disappear even faster from followers’ devices. Admins will also have the ability to block screenshots and forwards from their channels.
While Channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default, WhatsApp is considering end-to-end encrypted channels for specific use cases, such as non-profit or health organizations, in the future.
To start, WhatsApp is partnering with global voices and select organizations in Colombia and Singapore to build and adapt the Channels experience. The company plans to expand Channels to more countries and allow anyone to create a channel in the coming months. Additionally, WhatsApp sees opportunities for admins to build businesses around their channels using payment services and the ability to promote channels in the directory.
WhatsApp emphasizes that its core focus will always be on private messaging among friends, family, and communities, and Channels is intended to complement this experience. Channels have been introduced in response to user requests and are aimed at providing a private and reliable broadcast tool.