WhatsApp has officially launched its new broadcast feature, Channels, in India and 150 other countries. This announcement came on Wednesday, with the messaging platform stating that it will gradually become accessible to users in these regions in the upcoming weeks.
Meta’s WhatsApp, similar to Instagram’s Broadcast channel feature, now allows users to communicate with their connections through one-way channels, simplifying the process of sending messages to large groups of recipients.
WhatsApp’s Channels operate independently from regular chats, ensuring the anonymity of followers. Functioning as a unidirectional broadcasting tool, it enables administrators to share text, images, videos, stickers, and polls while safeguarding the privacy of both administrators and followers.
Meta stated, “WhatsApp Channels are a one-way broadcast tool and deliver a private way to receive updates from people and organizations that matter to you, right within WhatsApp.”
So how does it function?
WhatsApp’s new Channels feature is housed under a new tab called “Updates.” Users can access Status updates and the channels they choose to follow from this tab, keeping them separate from their conversations with family, friends, and communities. Channels can also be accessed through invitation URLs shared in chats, emails, or posted online.
To join a channel, users need to update their WhatsApp app to the latest version from the Google Play Store (for Android) or the App Store (for iOS). Once WhatsApp is opened, tapping on the Updates tab allows users to select from the list of channels they wish to follow.
Channels can be found based on users’ country, and they can also be searched for by name or category. The most recent, active, and popular channels, based on the number of followers, will be displayed at the bottom of the page.
To follow a channel, simply tap the ‘+’ button next to its name. Users can also tap on the channel name to view its profile and description.
What are the key features?
Users in WhatsApp Channels can respond to updates and provide feedback using emojis, similar to Instagram broadcast channels. The total number of responses will be shown, but without revealing the user’s name who reacted.
Admins will soon have the ability to edit their updates for up to 30 days before they are automatically removed from WhatsApp’s servers. Additionally, when an admin forwards an Update to a chat or group, it will include a link back to the channel, making it easy for individuals to access more information.
To prevent message buildup in channels, WhatsApp will retain channel history on its servers for a maximum of 30 days. The company is also working on features to make updates disappear even faster from followers’ devices. Admins will also have the option to restrict screenshots and forwards within their channels.
Furthermore, WhatsApp gives administrators control over who can follow their channel and whether their channel is discoverable in the directory.
However, it’s important to note that channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default. This is because the primary purpose of channels is to reach a large audience. WhatsApp acknowledges in its blog post 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.