Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, is set to introduce a new feature called Channels to its messaging service. Channels will function as a “private broadcast service,” allowing individuals and organizations to send messages and updates to followers separately from regular interpersonal communications on WhatsApp. Admins of WhatsApp channels will have the ability to share text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls with their followers, who won’t be able to respond to the messages. The channels will store messages for 30 days before they are deleted.
Unlike typical WhatsApp messages, Channels will not utilize end-to-end encryption in order to reach a wider audience. However, WhatsApp mentioned that it may introduce end-to-end encrypted channels in the future for groups such as nonprofits or health organizations that require more secure communications.
WhatsApp users will be able to find and join Channels through a searchable directory and access the Channels they follow via a dedicated “Updates” tab. This tab will be separate from regular chats with family, friends, and communities. Meta has collaborated with organizations like the Singapore Heart Foundation and Colombia Check nonprofit to launch Channels initially in Colombia and Singapore, with plans for a broader release in other countries later this year.
Meta sees WhatsApp as the “next chapter” for the company, aiming to develop it into a profitable platform similar to Instagram and Facebook. While Meta primarily generates revenue from online advertising, it has avoided incorporating ads into WhatsApp. Instead, it focuses on business-messaging features to monetize the platform and provide companies with more engaging ways to interact with users. Meta believes there is an opportunity for admins to build businesses around their channels using payment services and promotional features within the platform.
By introducing Channels, Meta aims to expand WhatsApp’s functionality and attract a larger user base, while also exploring potential monetization avenues and supporting various organizations in their communication efforts.