WhatsApp announces new feature to broadcast your messages

Popular messaging service, WhatsApp, has introduced a new feature called Channels to make the app a ‘private broadcast messaging product’.

On Thursday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, posted about the feature on social media calling it ‘a private way to follow people and organizations that matter to you, right within WhatsApp’.

Channels will sit in a new tab called Updates, where you’ll find Status and channels you choose to follow. This will be separate from your chats with family, friends, and communities.

The new feature will be a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls.

Users can join channels using invite links sent in chats, e-mails, or posted online.

Meta added that it’s building a searchable directory to help users select channels to follow that align with their hobbies, sports teams, local officials etc.

Even though it’s a broadcast tool, the focus is still very much on privacy.

The phone number and profile photo of channel admins won’t be shown to followers. Likewise, following a channel won’t reveal your phone number to the admin or other followers.

Channel updates will only be stored on Meta’s servers for up to 30 days and the company said it would add ways to make updates disappear even faster from follower’s devices.

Admins will also have the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channel. They can also decide who can follow their channel and whether they want their channel to be discoverable in the directory or not.

Meta noted that channels would not be are not end-to-end encrypted by default but was exploring the option for a limited audience such as non-profits or health organizations.

Users in Colombia and Singapore will be the first to receive access to Channels. Over the coming months, Meta will expand the availability of the tool for users in more countries, it said.

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