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WhatsApp introduces Channels, a private way to stay updated

WhatsApp, the popular chatting platform has unveiled an exciting new feature called Channels, aiming to provide users with a simple, reliable, and private method to receive important updates from individuals and organizations directly within the app.

According to the Meta-owned app, Channels will be accessible through a dedicated tab called Updates, separate from regular chats with family, friends, and communities.

Elaborated in the WhatsApp blog, Channels function as one-way broadcasts, allowing admins to send a variety of content including text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls to their followers.

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To facilitate the selection of Channels to follow, WhatsApp is developing a searchable directory where users can find updates related to their interests, hobbies, sports teams and local official announcements, among other categories.

Additionally, Channels can be accessed through invite links shared in chats, emails, or posted online.

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Privacy is a top priority in the development of Channels. Admins’ personal information, such as phone numbers and profile photos, will not be revealed to followers.

Likewise, following a Channel will not disclose the user’s phone number to the admin or other followers. The decision of whom to follow remains entirely private.

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In line with WhatsApp’s approach to messaging, Channel updates will not be stored indefinitely. The platform will retain Channel history on its servers for a maximum of 30 days, and the firm has noted that efforts will be made to provide options for updates to disappear even faster from followers’ devices.

Admins will also have the ability to block screenshots and forwards from their Channels.

Furthermore, WhatsApp intends to offer admins control over their Channel’s accessibility and visibility. They will be able to determine who can follow their Channel and choose whether to make their Channel discoverable in the directory or not.

While Channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default, WhatsApp is exploring the possibility of implementing end-to-end encryption for limited-audience Channels, such as those operated by non-profit organizations or health institutions, as a potential future option.

Channels will initially launch in Colombia and Singapore, where WhatsApp will collaborate with leading global voices and select organizations to refine the user experience based on real-world feedback.

Over the following months, WhatsApp plans to expand Channels to more countries, allowing anyone to create their own Channel.

Additionally, WhatsApp sees potential in supporting admins with monetization options, enabling them to build businesses around their Channels using the platform’s expanding payment services.

Furthermore, certain Channels may be promoted in the directory to enhance their visibility and increase awareness.

WhatsApp emphasizes that private messaging among friends, family, and communities remains the core focus of the platform. However, the introduction of Channels is a significant step forward in response to long-standing user demands.

“WhatsApp believes the time is ripe to provide users with a straightforward, dependable, and confidential broadcasting tool, and looks forward to users enjoying its benefits in the months and years ahead.”

Other updates that have recently occurred in WhatsApp include Chat Lock, which lets you protect your most intimate conversations behind one more layer of security and the ability to use the same WhatsApp account on multiple phones and also edit the WhatsApp messages.

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Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu is a Tech enthusiast, happy to delve deeper into the African tech space covering Social Media, AI, Startups, Telcos, Cryptocurrency, Big Data, Women in Tech and all matters Tech.

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