WhatsApp, owned by Meta, has introduced a new feature called "Channels" that enables users to receive important updates from individuals and organizations through broadcast messaging. With the aim of providing a simple, reliable, and private means of communication, WhatsApp has created a separate tab within the app called "Updates" where users can access Channels along with their existing chats.
Channels serve as a one-way broadcast tool for administrators to disseminate text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls to their followers. To facilitate the discovery of relevant channels, WhatsApp is developing a searchable directory encompassing various categories such as hobbies, sports teams, and local updates. Users can join channels through invite links shared in chats, emails, or posted online.
In terms of privacy, WhatsApp ensures the protection of personal information for both admins and followers. Admins' phone numbers and profile photos remain concealed from followers, and joining a channel does not disclose the follower's phone numbers to the admin or other followers. Additionally, channel history will be stored on WhatsApp servers for up to 30 days, and the company plans to introduce features that allow updates to disappear even faster from followers' devices. Admins will have the ability to block screenshots and forwards within their channels.
While end-to-end encryption will not be enabled by default for Channels, as the objective is to reach a broad audience, WhatsApp acknowledges potential scenarios where limited-audience, end-to-end encrypted channels could be beneficial, such as for non-profit or health organizations. The company is exploring this as a future option.
WhatsApp recognizes the opportunity to support admins in building businesses around their channels by leveraging their expanding payment services and offering promotional options in the directory to boost visibility. The initial launch of Channels is limited to Colombia and Singapore, with plans to expand to more countries and allow anyone to create a channel in the coming months.
With the introduction of Channels, WhatsApp aims to enhance communication possibilities for individuals, organizations, and businesses while maintaining a user-friendly and secure environment.
Inputs from IANS