Meta is unveiling a broadcast messaging feature, dubbed Channels, on WhatsApp. This new feature provides more avenues for WhatsApp's 2 billion users to interact and opens the door for potential monetization down the line.
Unlike Instagram, where channel updates are shared via direct messages, WhatsApp Channels will appear in a new tab called Updates. The primary use of these channels will be by entities like NGOs, medical research institutions, and fact-checking organizations, rather than individual creators.
Channels offer one-way communication where admins can share text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls, but users cannot respond to these posts. Channels can be joined through an invite link, and WhatsApp is developing a directory for finding various channels based on interests or affiliations.
"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,” stated Mark Zuckerberg, adding that Channel messages will be deleted after 30 days with no records kept by the company.
Initially, Channels will launch in Colombia and Singapore, with early adopters including the Singapore Heart Foundation and Colombian fact-checker Colombia Check. Major international partners, including the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the World Health Organization (WHO), FC Barcelona, and Manchester City, are also onboard.
Meta is exploring potential ways to monetize Channels, such as lifting end-to-end encryption for larger channels to increase their audience reach. Another approach under consideration is incorporating payment services for businesses and the option to promote channels in the directory.
Channels represent WhatsApp's efforts to enhance large-group conversations, following last year's introduction of Communities. WhatsApp aims to become the go-to platform for organizations and authorities to issue updates and alerts to users.