WhatsApp has introduced a feature called Channels, which they describe as a private means to stay updated on important topics or individuals.

WhatsApp Channels

WhatsApp has announced the introduction of a new broadcast feature called Channels, which aims to provide a reliable and private method of receiving important updates from individuals and organizations within the app. The Channels feature will be housed in a separate tab called Updates, along with Status updates, and will be distinct from regular chats with friends and family.

WhatsApp explained that Channels will serve as a one-way broadcasting tool for admins to share various types of content such as text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. To assist users in discovering channels of interest, the platform will create a searchable directory where users can find updates related to their hobbies, sports teams, and local authorities. Additionally, users can join channels through invite links shared in chats, emails, or posted online.

The initial launch of Channels will involve collaborations with “global voices” and selected organizations in Colombia and Singapore. WhatsApp’s global partners for this initiative include NGOs like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as FC Barcelona and Manchester City.

WhatsApp plans to expand Channels to more countries, including India, and allow anyone to create a channel in the coming months. The company emphasized its commitment to privacy by ensuring that channel admins and followers’ personal information, such as phone numbers and profile photos, will remain protected. The app will store channel history on its servers for a maximum of 30 days and explore options to make updates disappear even faster from followers’ devices. Admins will also have the ability to block screenshots and forwards within their channels.

While end-to-end encryption is not enabled by default for Channels, WhatsApp acknowledged that there may be cases where it could be beneficial, such as for nonprofit or health organizations. They stated that they are considering this as a potential future option.