WhatsApp Communities and other updates coming this year
WhatsApp is set to launch a new feature called "communities" to improve upon group conversations on its messaging platform. Launching later this year, WhatsApp Communities will function as a "directory of groups," according to a company spokesperson. Other updates include the ability to share larger files, more powers for group admins, and a regulated effort to bring WhatsApp users closer together.
- WhatsApp has not rolled out a major change to how its users communicate with each other in a long time.
- The popular messaging service has about 400 million users in India alone.
- The feature would have come in handy during the second wave of COVID-19 in India when people were using WhatsApp to source oxygen and medicines, said the parent company Meta.
WhatsApp Communities are like a group of groups. Anyone can create a community and add multiple groups if the invited group admins consent. However, only the people in a certain group can see the messages or the phone numbers of users in that group, even if they are in the community. Community-wide broadcast messages will only be visible to those who allow them.
A WhatsApp spokesperson said that the update will allow any user to "run a community of their own with diverse groups yet having some common linkages." The feature was added, "based on feedback that people get lost because of the multiple groups."
With this feature, admins will have power over which group stays in and stays out of the community. "They can also remove problematic messages in a group," a company spokesperson said. If certain groups are seen engaging in conversations that are deemed inappropriate or abusive. admins of a community will also be able to unlink groups.
WhatsApp Communities also looks after spamming as users will only be allowed to share within the group. Further, users in a certain group will not be able to search for other groups in the community, although they could request admins to add them.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the new feature could be used to make work communities, school communities, or even neighborhood communities. "A lot of people tell us they want to use WhatsApp for this since it's the quickest way to stay in touch with people, but until now the product hasn't been built in a way that makes this easy," Zuckerberg said.
As part of the upcoming updates, users will be able to react to messages on WhatsApp as they do on Facebook and Instagram. WhatsApp group calls will be possible with all members if the number of members is under 32. The size limit on file-sharing has now been raised to 2GB. Group admins will be able to remove problematic messages from everyone's chats.