Meta has officially announced the global rollout of the WhatsApp Channels feature, with India being the initial launch point. This move comes after a limited release in Colombia and Singapore earlier this year.
Feature Overview and Enhancements
WhatsApp Channels are designed as a one-way broadcast tool, allowing admins to send a variety of content, including text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. These channels will be housed under a new tab labeled “Updates”, separate from regular chats. This feature aims to provide users with a platform to receive updates from their favorite celebrities, sports teams, artists, and thought leaders.
The global rollout introduces several new features to enhance the WhatsApp user experience. Users can now react to posts using emojis, and these reactions will be aggregated without revealing individual identities. The enhanced directory allows users to discover channels based on their country and view channels that are new, active, or popular. Additionally, when updates from channels are forwarded to chats or groups, they will include a link back to the original channel.
Privacy at the Forefront
Meta emphasizes the privacy-centric design of the Channels feature. Following a channel will not disclose a user's phone number to the admin or other followers. Channel updates will be stored on servers for a maximum of 30 days, and admins have the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channels. Admins can also control the discoverability of their channel in the directory and decide who can follow them.
In other major WhatsApp news this week, Meta is creating a new section that will integrate the service with third-party messaging apps. This section will allow WhatsApp to meet requirements of Europe's new Digital Markets Act (DMA).
According to a recent discovery by Android Authority, a new section within WhatsApp is being developed to house chats from third-party apps. The introduction of this feature means that users from different messaging platforms can communicate with WhatsApp users without necessarily having the app.