WhatsApp has announced the introduction of Channels, a new feature that provides users with a simple, reliable, and private way to receive important updates from people and organizations. Channels will be available in a new tab called Updates, separate from regular chats with family, friends, and communities.
Channels serve as a one-way broadcast tool, allowing admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. To help users discover channels of interest, WhatsApp is developing a searchable directory where they can find updates from hobbies, sports teams, local officials, and more. Users can also join channels through invite links shared in chats, emails, or posted online.
Privacy is a key focus in building Channels. Both admins and followers have their personal information protected. 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 decision of whom to follow remains private. Additionally, channel history will only be stored on WhatsApp’s servers for up to 30 days, and options will be provided to make updates disappear even faster from followers’ devices. Admins will have the ability to block screenshots and forwards from their channel.
WhatsApp recognizes that some cases may require end-to-end encrypted channels for a limited audience, such as non-profit or health organizations, and they are exploring this as a future option.
Channels will initially be available in Colombia and Singapore, where WhatsApp will work with leading global voices and select organizations to gather feedback and refine the experience. The company plans to bring Channels to more countries and enable anyone to create a channel in the coming months.
WhatsApp also sees an opportunity to support admins by allowing them to build a business around their channel using WhatsApp’s expanding payment services. Furthermore, the ability to promote certain channels in the directory will be introduced to increase awareness.
WhatsApp reassures its users that private messaging among friends, family, and communities will remain the core focus and priority. The introduction of Channels is a response to user demand over the years, and WhatsApp believes it is the right time to provide a simple, reliable, and private broadcast tool. They hope users will enjoy using Channels in the months and years to come.
8 June 2023