WhatsApp is excited to introduce a new feature called Channels, designed to enhance the user experience by providing a simple, reliable, and private way to receive important updates from individuals and organizations within the app. This new addition is part of our ongoing efforts to offer innovative features that cater to the evolving needs of our users.
Channels will be accessible through a dedicated tab named “Updates,” alongside the existing Status tab. This will provide a separate space where users can find and follow channels of their choice, without any interference with their personal chats with friends, family, and communities. The introduction of Channels aims to offer a more organized and streamlined approach to receiving updates.
For admins, Channels will serve as a one-way broadcast tool, enabling them to share a variety of content including text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. The intent is to provide a direct line of communication between admins and their followers, ensuring that important information reaches the intended audience efficiently.
To make it easier for users to discover and follow channels of interest, a searchable directory is being developed. This directory will enable users to find channels related to their passions, hobbies, sports teams, local news, and more. Joining a channel can be done through invite links shared in chats, emails, or other online platforms.
Privacy remains a top priority for WhatsApp. Both channel admins and followers will have their personal information protected. Admins’ phone numbers and profile photos will remain confidential, and following a channel will not expose followers’ phone numbers to admins or other followers. This commitment to privacy ensures that users have full control over their interactions and engagement with channels.
In terms of data retention, channel history will be stored on our servers for up to 30 days, aligning with our emphasis on privacy and data management. We are also exploring options to allow admins to regulate interactions further, such as blocking screenshots and forwards from their channels.
Channels will offer admins the flexibility to decide who can follow their channel and whether it should be discoverable in the directory. It’s important to note that while the primary focus of Channels is broad communication, they are not end-to-end encrypted by default. We are actively considering the potential of introducing end-to-end encrypted channels for specific use cases, such as nonprofit organizations or health initiatives.
To kickstart Channels, WhatsApp is collaborating with prominent global voices and select organizations in Colombia and Singapore, where the feature will first be introduced. This partnership will help us refine the user experience and gather valuable insights for future improvements. Our plan is to gradually expand Channels to more countries, allowing anyone to create and manage a channel in the near future.
Looking ahead, we envision Channels as a platform that could offer additional opportunities, such as supporting admins in building businesses around their channels through our payment services. We are also exploring ways to promote specific channels within the directory to enhance their visibility and reach.
While Channels introduces exciting new possibilities, the core functionality of private messaging will remain at the heart of WhatsApp. The addition of Channels reflects our commitment to addressing user requests and adapting to changing communication needs. We believe Channels will provide a valuable tool for delivering and receiving updates, and we look forward to users enjoying this feature in the months and years to come.