WhatsApp has announced the launch of a new feature called Channels, designed to provide users with a private and convenient way to stay updated with important information from individuals and organizations. Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, aims to streamline communication by offering a separate tab called “Updates” alongside the existing ‘Status’ feature, allowing users to follow specific channels of interest without compromising their personal conversations.
So, what exactly are WhatsApp Channels? Admins of Channels can send one-way broadcasts to their followers, delivering a wide range of content such as text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. To facilitate easy discovery, WhatsApp is developing a searchable directory that will help users find updates related to their specific interests, including hobbies, sports teams, and local officials. Users can join channels through invite links shared in chats, emails, or posted online.
Maintaining privacy is a key concern for WhatsApp Channels. Admins’ phone numbers and profile photos will not be visible to followers, ensuring their privacy remains intact. Similarly, when a user follows a channel, their phone number will not be disclosed to the admin or other followers. The decision to follow a channel is entirely private.
In terms of privacy measures, WhatsApp will not store Channel updates indefinitely. The platform will retain channel history on its servers for up to 30 days, and additional options will be implemented to allow updates to disappear even faster from followers’ devices. Admins will also have the ability to block screenshots and forwards from their channels. Additionally, admins can choose who can follow their channels and decide whether their channels should be discoverable in the directory. While channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default, WhatsApp recognizes the need for end-to-end encryption in certain cases and is exploring ways to introduce it for specific use cases such as nonprofit organizations or health-related channels.
The initial launch of Channels will take place in Colombia and Singapore, with availability expanding to more countries in the coming months, including India. WhatsApp plans to enable anyone to create a channel gradually. Additionally, WhatsApp may support admins by providing opportunities to build a business around their channels using WhatsApp’s payment services. Certain channels may also be promoted in the directory to increase awareness.
With the introduction of Channels, WhatsApp aims to enhance user experience by providing a centralized platform for receiving important updates while maintaining privacy and reducing clutter in personal conversations. As the feature rolls out globally, it is expected to benefit individuals, organizations, and communities seeking efficient communication and information sharing within the WhatsApp ecosystem.