Late to the party: WhatsApp introduces 'Channels'

Meta-owned messaging app hopes to catch up to other competitors, including Telegram, with new feature that allows users to broadcast messages to large audiences

WhatsApp announced a new feature on Thursday called Channels, which will allow users to receive updates from individuals, organizations and companies via the popular messaging app.
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Unlike regular chats in the app, Channels are a one-way tool that enables channel administrators to send text messages, photos, videos and more to their followers.
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הערוצים של וואטסאפ
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Channels on WhatsApp
(Photo: WhatsApp)
For example, a football team would be able to send regular updates to its fans, and a local municipality could send important messages to its residents. The feature is already available in Colombia and Singapore and will be rolled out to more countries in the coming months.
Meanwhile, users in Israel have reported in recent days that the message editing feature, which WhatsApp announced back in May, is now available for use.
Channels will appear under a new Updates tab, where users will be able to see the status and content of the channels they choose to follow, separate from chats with family, friends and others.
To help users discover channels to follow, WhatsApp will build a search directory that will assist users in finding "hobbies, sports teams, updates from local officials, and more." Channels can also be accessed via invitation links.
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(Photo: Shutterstock)
With the launch of its new feature, WhatsApp aligns itself with competitor Telegram, which has allowed users to create channels to communicate with their followers since 2015.
In recent months, WhatsApp has announced a long list of new features, including message editing and chat archiving, which help narrow the gap from Telegram, which may lag behind in terms of user numbers, but is far more advanced than WhatsApp in terms of useful features.
According to WhatsApp, the channel’s history will only be stored for 30 days and will then be deleted from the company's servers. Additionally, channel administrators will be able to create content that will disappear after a shorter period.
They will also be able to block screenshots and prevent content from being forwarded from their channels. Administrators will also be able to approve followers and choose whether the channel will appear in the search directory or not.
Since channels target a wide audience, they are not end-to-end encrypted by default, unlike other chats in the app.
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