Meta Launches WhatsApp Channels

Whatsapp channels

In a bid to provide a more personalized and private way for users to receive updates, WhatsApp today announced the launch of Channels, a new one-way broadcast tool. Set within a newly created “Updates” tab, Channels will exist independently from the personal and community chat features that WhatsApp users have come to know.

Channels is designed to be a simple, reliable, and private platform for admins to share content in the form of text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls with their followers. Users will be able to select channels to follow via a searchable directory, offering updates on a variety of interests from local sports teams to community announcements. Channels can also be accessed through invite links shared in chats, emails, or posted online.

Privacy remains paramount in the creation of Channels. To protect personal information, the phone numbers and profile photos of both admins and followers will be hidden. Who users follow on Channels will remain confidential, adding a layer of discretion to the platform.

Echoing WhatsApp’s commitment to privacy, Channel updates will not be stored on servers indefinitely. Updates will only be saved for up to 30 days, with additional options for making updates disappear more rapidly from follower’s devices. Admins will have the power to prevent screenshots and forwarding from their channel.

Furthermore, the discoverability of channels can be controlled by the admins, enabling them to decide who can follow their channel and whether they want their channel listed in the directory. While the goal of Channels is to reach a broad audience and hence not end-to-end encrypted by default, WhatsApp recognizes that there might be cases where encrypted channels might be beneficial and is considering this for future options.

Check out the video below:

YouTube video

As part of its launch strategy, WhatsApp is teaming up with leading voices and select organizations in Colombia and Singapore to refine the Channels experience. In the coming months, Channels will be rolled out in additional countries with the option for any user to create a channel. Hopefully this includes Canada.

In addition to enhancing user engagement, WhatsApp foresees an opportunity to support channel admins in developing their businesses by using its expanding payment services. It also aims to allow promotion of certain channels in the directory to increase their visibility.

WhatsApp reassured its users that private messaging will remain the core function of the platform and its top priority. The introduction of Channels, however, is seen as an exciting step forward in addressing users’ needs for a more private and reliable broadcasting tool.

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