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Whatsapp releases Channels, a one-to-many broadcast feature

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Photo: Whatsapp

Whatsapp has unveiled its latest feature called Channels, introducing a new form of messaging within the platform. Channels are designed for one-to-many broadcasts, allowing users to follow updates without engaging in direct conversations.

This feature is mainly for governments, transit agencies, brands, and other entities seeking an alternative to Twitter for sharing important information. As of now, Channels is limited to global organisations and select organisations in Colombia and Singapore and will gradually make way to other countries and institutions.

Channels function similarly to Twitter feeds, without the metrics and public replies. It enables organisations to share local news, sports updates, and other vital announcements. Additionally, Channels also serve as a creator tool, allowing those with an audience to share various content formats such as text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. In the future, Whatsapp plans to add payment and monetisation services into channels, offering creators additional opportunities.

Whatsapp is looking to diversify its offerings.

To ensure privacy, Whatsapp emphasises that channel admins’ information remains undisclosed, and the app only retains a channel’s history for 30 days. Admins will have the option to block screenshots and forwards, enabling content to remain within the channel. However, unlike regular WhatsApp messages, channels are not end-to-end encrypted. The company acknowledges this and is exploring possibilities of encrypting certain channels in the future.

While similar features have existed in other platforms like Telegram’s Channels and Instagram’s Broadcast Channels, Whatsapp’s integration of one-to-many broadcasts aligns with its messaging-centric approach. The convenience of receiving updates on air quality or train statuses within a messaging app is perceived as a natural fit compared to the diverse content streams on Twitter.

Whatsapp’s development beyond a messaging app is becoming increasingly evident. Recent additions include multi-device support, private newsletter tools, revamped usernames, shopping capabilities, polls, improved group chats, and other Facebook-like features. Channels represent Whatsapp’s latest attempt to combine social media elements with messaging.

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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