WhatsApp is a messaging app with big plans. A new feature, WhatsApp Channels, is coming to the encrypted messaging service, Meta-owned WhatsApp announced Thursday.
Channels is a “one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers and polls,” the social media giant said in a statement. You’ll be able to use a searchable directory to select channels to follow and can choose to follow channels for your favorite sports teams, hobbies or updates from local officials.
How Channels will work on WhatsApp
Channels will appear on a new tab within WhatsApp labeled Updates, separate from regular chats. Admins won’t be able to add followers to their channels, so you can’t be forced into receiving updates from any groups.
“Channels will aspire to be the most private broadcast messaging product available and will come with the strong privacy protections people expect from WhatsApp,” Meta’s statement said, noting that Channel history will only be available for 30 days, after which it will disappear automatically.
Phone numbers and profile photos of channel admins also won’t be shared with followers, and following a channel won’t reveal your phone number to the admin or to other followers.
Who will be on WhatsApp Channels?
A promotional video calls Channels “a private way to follow all topics you care about,” displaying such topics as “carpentry tips,” “traffic” and “weather.”
Partners at launch will include the soccer teams FC Barcelona and Manchester City, as well as the International Rescue Committee and the World Health Organization.
“We also believe there is an opportunity to support admins with a way for them to build a business around their channel using our expanding payment services as well as the ability to promote certain channels in the directory to help increase awareness,” the statement said.
When will WhatsApp Channels arrive?
A representative for WhatsApp didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on when exactly the new feature will arrive, but the Meta statement says that Channels will be first available in Colombia and Singapore before arriving in other countries.
For more on WhatsApp, here’s how to link multiple phones to your WhatsApp account and how to edit messages you’ve already sent.