WhatsApp launches new feature: this is what you need to know

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It appears WhatsApp has once more taken inspiration from rival Telegram for its new feature, called WhatsApp Channels.

The feature lets users privately follow people and organisations they want to get updates from, whether it’s Manchester City or FC Barcelona.

Much like on Twitter, users can subscribe to channels and receive the updates, although unlike personal chats on WhatsApp they can’t respond to them.

WhatsApp Channels is similar to Telegram Channels, introduced in 2015, which lets admins send messages to users who have opted to receive them.

It follows news that WhatsApp developers are working on bringing animated emojis to the platform, much like animated emoji on Telegram. As Telegram already has animated emoji, WhatsApp faced accusations from some users on Twitter that it is ‘stealing’ the idea.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta which owns WhatsApp, announced the new Channels feature in a post on his Facebook page on Thursday, although he didn’t make any mention of the existing Channels feature on Telegram.

‘Today we’re announcing WhatsApp Channels – a private way to follow people and organizations that matter to you, right within WhatsApp,’ Zuckerberg said.

‘We’re building Channels to be the most private way to communicate.’

Zuckerberg said Channels starts rolling out to users in Singapore and Colombia first, but users globally will get it ‘later this year’.

Channels will appear under a new tab called ‘Updates’ on the WhatsApp, next to ‘Chats’, ‘Calls’ and ‘Communities’, which was launched last year.

WhatsApp has partnered with select organisations in Colombia and Singapore, including Singapore Heart Foundation and fact-checker Colombia Check, to launch the tool.

Other global launch partners include the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as Drone Racing League, martial arts company UFC and football teams FC Barcelona and Manchester City. Zuckerberg said users will be able to find ‘all the channels that you want to follow’ over time once the feature rolls out.

WhatsApp is also building a ‘searchable directory’ which will let users find hobbies, sports teams, updates from local officials and more.

Unlike personal chats on WhatsApp, Channels are a ‘one-way broadcast tool’, so if users get an update through Channels they won’t be able to reply to it.

Channel admins – who could be business owners or employees of the particular channel – will send the updates to all who have chosen to receive them, whether they’re text, photos, videos, stickers or polls.

For privacy reasons, the phone number and profile photo of the Channel admin will not be shared with people receiving the updates.

Likewise, following a channel won’t reveal your phone number to the admin or other followers, Zuckerberg said.

WhatsApp will also make it possible for admins to decide who can follow their channel and whether they want it discoverable in the directory or not.

WhatsApp Channel messages will only be stored for 30 days before they are deleted, although WhatsApp will ‘add ways to make updates disappear even faster from follower’s devices’.

 

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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