WhatsApp has launched its new Channels feature in over 150 countries, aiming to provide a private method for users to receive important updates. “Today we’re excited to launch WhatsApp Channels and deliver a private way to receive updates that matter to you,” said the company in an official release on 13 September 2023.
A Focus on Privacy
The main aim of Channels is to provide the most secure broadcast service possible. Users have the option to follow various organisations, sports teams and artists, with none of these choices being visible to other followers. Both admins and followers will have their personal information kept confidential.
Following positive feedback from its first introduction in 10 countries, WhatsApp is adding new functionalities. Among these are an improved directory, the ability to react to posts with emojis, and future editing functions for admins. Users can also share these updates within their chats or groups, with a direct link back to the channel in question.
What Are Channels?
Channels are distinct from regular chats and act more like news feeds seen on other platforms. Posts can include text, photos, videos and polls. Although users can’t send messages, they can respond to posts with emoji reactions.
Keeping Things Private
Meta describes Channels as a “private broadcast service”. Both owners and followers will have their phone numbers and profile photos hidden from view. Furthermore, channels have the option of remaining unsearchable and their posts are deleted automatically after 30 days.
Views on the New Feature
James Hacking from Socially Powerful expressed doubt that Meta could change the public’s perception of WhatsApp as mainly a private messaging platform. Ellie Byrne, founder of the Truffle Social agency, also expressed reservations. “The introduction of Channels turns WhatsApp from a straightforward chat platform into a social media broadcasting platform,” she said.
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Involvement of Celebrities and Sports Teams
Prominent names in the worlds of music and sport, including Olivia Rodrigo and football clubs like Manchester City and Liverpool, are already part of the launch. Sky News is also on the list of channels you can follow.
Channels Take Off in India
In India, Channels has collaborated with the Indian Cricket team and various actors. The service aims to offer real-time news and updates about the personalities people care about. “With WhatsApp Channels, fans will have access to crucial information like match schedules, timings and scorecards,” announced the Indian Cricket team.
According to a senior executive at a marketing firm, people check WhatsApp far more frequently than they do other platforms like Instagram, making it an effective platform for celebrities and organisations to engage with the public.
The Next Phase
While Channels are currently only open to celebrities and public figures, WhatsApp plans to make the feature available to all. “This is just the beginning,” the company confirmed.
Your Experience Won’t Change If You Opt Out
If users decide not to follow any channels, their existing experience on WhatsApp will not be affected. They also have the freedom to unfollow a channel at any time, giving users full control over their experience.
WhatsApp Channels aims to offer a private, interactive space for users to follow updates from organisations, celebrities and sports teams. With plans for continued updates and expansion, Channels is poised to become an important part of the WhatsApp offering.