Meta is rolling out a broadcast-based messaging feature, called Channels, on WhatsApp, similar to a recent update it sent out to Instagram, as the social juggernaut experiments with giving more conversational avenues to its 2 billion users. The company is also aiming to earn money from this feature down the road.
On WhatsApp, Channels messages will show up in a new tab called Updates. It’s a departure from Meta’s approach on Instagram, where channel announcements are communicated via direct messages. On WhatsApp, Meta is focusing on facilitating channels for use by entities such as NGOs, medical research institutions, and fact-checking bodies, as opposed to individual creators.
Admins can send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls on these channels, Meta said. Notably, these are one-way conversations, so users won’t be able to reply to those messages.
While users can join channels through an invite link, WhatsApp is also building a directory to find different channels for hobbies, sports teams, and local officials. The company said it will introduce tools for admins to turn off discoverability for their channels.
“Today we’re announcing WhatsApp Channels — a private way to follow people and organizations that matter to you, right within WhatsApp. We are starting in Singapore and Colombia, but will roll out to everyone later this year. We’re building Channels to be the most private way to communicate. As a channel admin, your phone number won’t be shown to followers, and following a channel won’t show that to the admin or others following the channel either, ” Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.