WhatsApp is a messaging app with big plans. On Thursday, Meta-owned WhatsApp announced that a new feature, WhatsApp Channels, is coming to the encrypted messaging service.
Channels is a “one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers and polls,” the company said in a statement. You’ll be able to use a searchable directory to select channels to follow, and you can choose to follow channels about your favorite sports teams, hobbies, or updates from local officials.
A promotional video calls Channels “a personal way to keep track of all the topics you care about,” showing topics like “carpentry tips,” “traffic” and “weather.” Launch partners will include soccer teams FC Barcelona and Manchester City, as well as the International Rescue Committee and the World Health Organization.
A WhatsApp representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on when exactly the new feature would arrive, but the company’s statement said the channels will be available first in Colombia and Singapore before arriving in other countries.
How channels will work on WhatsApp
Channels will appear in 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 to receive updates from groups.
“Channels will aim to be the most personal broadcast messaging product available and will come with the strong privacy protections people have come to expect from WhatsApp,” Meta’s statement said, noting that channel history will only be available to 30 days after which it will disappear automatically.
Channel admins’ phone numbers and profile pictures will also not be shared with followers, and following a channel will not reveal your phone number to the admin or other followers.
“We also believe there is an opportunity to support admins with a way 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 drive awareness,” it said. the statement.
For more on WhatsApp, here’s how to connect multiple phones to your WhatsApp account and how to edit messages you’ve already sent.