WhatsApp is launching a new feature called Channels, which provides a private and reliable way for users to receive important updates from people and organizations. This feature aims to give users a separate space for following channels of interest, apart from their regular chats with friends and family.
Channels are one-way broadcasts, allowing admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls to their followers. To make it easier for users to discover channels, WhatsApp is creating a searchable directory where they can find updates from their favorite hobbies, sports teams, local officials, and more. Users can also join channels through invite links shared in chats, emails, or online platforms.
Do note that, Admins’ personal information, such as phone numbers and profile photos, will remain hidden from followers. Similarly, following a channel won’t expose users’ phone numbers to admins or other followers.
Further, WhatsApp Channels allows admins to ban screenshots and forwards and stores channel data for 30 days. While channels are not originally end-to-end encrypted, WhatsApp is exploring providing end-to-end encryption for specific channels, such as those used by non-profit organisations or health care providers.
WhatsApp Channels is initially being launched in Colombia and Singapore, working with leading global voices and select organizations to refine the experience.
The company plans to expand Channels to more countries and enable anyone to create their own channel in the coming months.