WhatsApp launches new feature 'Channels' for broadcast messages

by IANS |

San Francisco, June 8 (IANS) Meta-owned WhatsApp on Thursday launched a new feature called -- "Channels" within the app for broadcast messaging, i.e., a simple, reliable and private way to receive important updates from people and organisations.

The company said that it is building Channels in a new tab called Updates, where users will find Status and channels they choose to follow -- separate from their chats with family, friends and communities.

"Channels are a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. To help you select channels to follow, we're building a searchable directory where you can find your hobbies, sports teams, updates from local officials, and more," WhatsApp said in a blogpost.

Users can also get to a channel from invite links sent in chats, e-mails or posted online.

To protect the personal information of both admins and followers, the company said that as a channel admin, their phone number and profile photo won't be shown to followers, likewise, following a channel won't reveal their phone number to the admin or other followers.

Moreover, WhatsApp mentioned that the company will store channel history on their servers for up to 30 days and will add ways to make updates disappear even faster from followers' devices.

Admins will also have the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channels.

Channels will not be end-to-end encrypted by default as the aim of Channels is to reach a wide audience.

"We do think there are some cases where end-to-end encrypted channels to a limited audience might make sense, such as a non-profit or health organisation, and we are exploring this as a future option as well," WhatsApp said.

With this feature, the company believes there is an opportunity to support admins with a way for them to build a business around their channel using their expanding payment services as well as the ability to promote certain channels in the directory to help increase awareness.

The company is launching Channels in select markets -- Colombia and Singapore and said it will bring Channels to more countries and the ability for anyone to create a channel over the coming months.

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