Meta, on Wednesday, launched WhatsApp Channels globally, including in the UAE and India. It is a one-way broadcast tool that allows users to receive updates from their favourite people and organisations. WhatsApp Channels has been introduced as an added feature and works differently for WhatsApp Groups and WhatsApp Communities.

What is WhatsApp Channels?

Meta describes WhatsApp Channels as a “private way for people to receive updates that matter to them, right within WhatsApp”. The one-way broadcast service lets admins send text, images, videos, stickers, and polls.

Channels can be accessed under a new tab, called ‘Updates’, in the app. Users will be able to see the status and channels they follow in the new tab. The new feature will remain separated from users’ chats with family, friends, and communities.

How is it different from Groups and Communities?

In a WhatsApp Group, you can add contacts from your phonebook that can include families, friends, colleagues or anyone. All members of a Group can send images, videos, texts, or polls. However, Channels is a one-way broadcast tool, which means only the admin can send updates and followers can only react and forward them.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp Communities bring members together “in topic-based groups”. One can make a Community and add new topic-based groups or add existing groups to the community. Admins of Communities can send announcements to the members and “stay connected by exploring and chatting in groups that matter to them”. Only the Community admin is allowed to send an announcement.

Currently, one can add up to 2,000 members to a new or existing Community.

WhatsApp Channels is more like social media pages of celebrities, artists, sportspersons, and other personalities that allow you to follow them and see everything that they share or announce.

How does WhatsApp Channel work?

WhatsApp Channels have some key features to enhance user experience. The ‘Enhanced Directory’ of the latest feature will contain all the available channels that you can follow. These channels are automatically filtered based on your country. Anyone with a WhatsApp account can make a channel on the platform, including actors, internet personalities, influencers, and organisations.

Users are allowed to react to the updates using emoticons and see the number of reactions an image, video or text message has received. However, how you have reacted will remain private.

One can also forward an update in the channel to WhatsApp chats or Groups. Such forwards will include a link that will redirect users to the channel. The updates will be stored on WhatsApp servers for up to 30 days.

WhatsApp allows you to follow, unfollow, or mute a channel at any time.

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