Meta's encrypted messaging platform WhatsApp has announced a new broadcasting tool called Channels, which allows users to follow creators in the app and receive direct message updates on selected topics of interest.
“Channels are a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls,” WhatsApp explained in a recent blog post.
The feature -- which launched this week in Colombia and Singapore before expanding to additional regions later this year -- depends on channels that users will follow that will eventually be searchable in an in-app directory in a tab called ‘Updates’ where users will find “hobbies, sports teams, updates from local officials, and more,” the company says.
Users will also be able to access a channel via invite links sent in chats, e-mail, or posted online.
WhatsApp said it is trying to make Channels “the most private broadcast service available” by not displaying the personal information of admins or followers.
In addition, Channels messages will only last for 30 days, with more options on their way to make updates disappear even faster from a follower's device.
Doubling down on its privacy mission, admins have the option to block screenshots and forward from their channel while they have the ability to decide who can follow their channel and whether they want their channel to be discoverable in the directory or not.
However, “given the aim of Channels is to reach a wide audience, channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default,” the company stated, adding that it is exploring the possibility of integrating end-to-end encryption for non profits or health organizations.
Finally, Meta has said it is looking into payments and business discovery elements within Channels as a way for admins to “build a business around their channel” and help increase awareness.