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WhatsApp to offer new Channels feature

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WhatsApp announced on Thursday that it is introducing creating a new feature called Channels. It is a to receive important updates from people and organisations, right within WhatsApp. Channels are being built on a new tab called updates- where you’ll find the Status and channels you choose to follow – separate from your chats with family, friends, and communities. 

“Channels are a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. To help you select channels to follow, we’re building a searchable directory where you can find your hobbies, sports teams, updates from local officials, and more. You can also get to a channel from invite links sent in chats, e-mail, or posted online,” Mark Zuckerberg’s blog post explained. 

Also read: WhatsApp users can now edit messages within 15 minutes

Channels will be first available in select organisations in Colombia and Singapore. They will be introduced to more countries in the subsequent months. 

Ensuring privacy

According to the post, they are aspiring this to be the most private broadcast service available. This starts by protecting the personal information of both admins and followers. “As a channel admin, your phone number and profile photo won’t be shown to followers. Likewise, following a channel won’t reveal your phone number to the admin or other followers. Who you decide to follow is your choice and it’s private,” said the blog post. 

To protect privacy further, WhatsApp is trying to ensure that the updates on Channel don’t stick around forever. “So we’ll only store channel history on our servers for up to 30 days and we’ll 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.”

Also read: WhatsApp to launch broadcast channel conversation on Android with 12 features

Lastly, WhatsApp will make it possible for admins to decide who can follow their channel and whether they want their channel to be discoverable in the directory or not. “Given the aim of Channels is to reach a wide audience, channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default. We do think there are some cases where end-to-end encrypted channels to a limited audience might make sense, such as a nonprofit or health organisation, and we’re exploring this as a future option as well,” the post concluded.



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