Meta expands WhatsApp Channels to over 150 countries

Meta has launched WhatsApp Channels to over 150 countries and delivered a private way to receive updates that matter to you, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO, disclosed on Wednesday. WhatsApp Channels is a new feature that allows you to follow people and organisations that matter to you, right within the platform. The new update is similar to a recent update on Instagram, and it will give more conversational avenues to its 2 billion users. On WhatsApp, Channels messages will show up in a new tab called Updates. It’s a departure from Meta’s approach on Instagram, where channel announcements are communicated via direct messages. On WhatsApp, Meta is focusing on facilitating channels for use by entities such as NGOs, medical research institutions and fact-checking bodies, as opposed to individual creators. Admins can send text, photos, videos, stickers and polls on these channels, Meta said. Notably, these are one-way conversations, so users won’t be able to reply to those messages. The Channels feature lives in a separate tab on the app, and others won’t be able to see the channels you follow. In addition, personal information of your account such as your phone number won’t be visible to admins or followers. While the primary feature of a channel remains one-to-many communication through broadcast messages, the company is adding new interactions, such as the ability to react with emojis. Users will be able to see the total count of reactions under the message. A document seen by, revealed that, “Channels are separate from your chats, and who you choose to follow is not visible to other followers. We also protect the personal information of both admins and followers. We’ve appreciated all the positive feedback from our initial start countries.” As Channels expand globally, the following updates are being introduced: Enhanced Directory – you can now find channels to follow that are automatically filtered based on your country. You can also view channels that are new, most active, and popular based on number of followers.Reactions – you can react using emojis to give feedback and see a count of total reactions. How you react will not be shown to followers.Editing – soon, admins will be able to make changes to their Updates for up to 30 days, when we automatically delete them from our servers.Forwarding – whenever you forward an Update to chats or groups, it will include a link back to the channel, so people can find out more.“This is just the beginning, and we’ll continue to add more features and expand Channels based on feedback we get from users. Over the coming months, we’ll also make it possible for anyone to create a channel,” Mark Zuckerberg added. Channels on WhatsApp was initially introduced to users in Colombia and Singapore in June. Later in July, the feature was expanded to seven more countries which includes Egypt, Chile, Malaysia, Morocco, Ukraine, Kenya and Peru. Since last year, WhatsApp has experimented with varying features catering to different sizes of groups. In November 2022, the company launched Communities to facilitate clubs, schools and resident complexes to have one place for all discussions. With Channels, WhatsApp likely wants to become a platform of choice for organisations and authorities to issue updates and alerts to users.