Meta is testing a broadcast-based messaging feature called Channels on WhatsApp, similar to a recent Instagram update, to give its 2 billion users more conversational options. The company also hopes to make money from this feature.
WhatsApp will add an Updates tab for Channels messages. On Instagram, Meta announces channels via direct messages. Meta is helping NGOs, medical research institutions, and fact-checking organizations create channels on WhatsApp.
Meta said admins can send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls on these channels. Users cannot reply to these one-way conversations.
WhatsApp is creating a directory of channels for hobbies, sports teams, and local officials. The company will offer admins tools to disable channel discoverability.
“Today we’re announcing WhatsApp Channels—a private way to follow people and organizations that matter to you, right within WhatsApp. We started in Singapore and Colombia and will expand later this year. Channels will offer the most private communication. “As a channel admin, your phone number won’t be shown to followers,” Mark Zuckerberg said.
After 30 days, Channels messages will be deleted.
Meta is launching Channels in Colombia and Singapore with early adopters like Singapore Heart Foundation and fact-checker Colombia Check. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), World Health Organization (WHO), and FC Barcelona and Manchester City are also partners, the company said. Meta plans to expand Channels to more countries in the coming months, allowing any user to create a Channel.
The Mark Zuckerberg-led company is considering other uses for this feature.
To expand audiences, large channels can remove end-to-end encryption. The company sees this as a revenue stream. Meta is considering payment and directory promotion for Channels businesses. WhatsApp has enabled merchant payments in Brazil and Singapore in recent months.
After Communities, WhatsApp launched Channels to enable large-group chats for its 2 billion users. Last year, Communities helped clubs, schools, and resident complexes centralize their discussions. WhatsApp likely wants Channels to become a platform for organizations and authorities to update and alert users.