WhatsApp has announced the availability of Channels, a new feature that can be found in the new Updates tab. With Channels, admins can gain followers and then issue one-way communications to those followers, with text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls.
According to WhatsApp, channels will be discoverable by users through a searchable directory where you can follow channels to do with your hobbies, sports teams, updates from local officials, and more. You also have the option to join channels through invite links that can be sent in chats, email, or posted online.
For several years now, WhatsApp has been trying to build its privacy credentials. With the launch of Channels, it also continues to keep an eye on privacy by protecting user data. Followers won’t be able to see the phone number or profile picture of Channel admins and admins won’t be able to see the phone numbers of followers.
Channels will also be ephemeral because channel history will only be stored on WhatsApp’s servers for 30 days. New updates will also add ways to make updates disappear even faster from followers’ devices. Additionally, admins will be able to block screenshots and forwards from their channel, as some will be private channels
WhatsApp said that channel admins can decide to hide channels from the directory and opt to just share invite links privately instead. Unfortunately, Channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default but it’s thinking how to offer this in the future where a channel may have a limited audience and more privacy is required.
WhatsApp has said that Channels will first make an appearance in Colombia and Singapore. Over time, they will be expanded to more countries. WhatsApp also said that it wants to support admins to build businesses around channels and will be expanding its payment services around the feature.