Today we’re excited to introduce Channels: a simple, reliable, and private way to receive important updates from people and organizations, right within WhatsApp. We’re building Channels in a new tab called Updates - where you’ll find Status and channels you choose to follow - separate from your chats with family, friends, and communities.
Channels are a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. To help you select channels to follow, we’re building a searchable directory where you can find your hobbies, sports teams, updates from local officials, and more. You can also get to a channel from invite links sent in chats, e-mail, or posted online.
We’re aspiring to build the most private broadcast service available. This starts by protecting the personal information of both admins and followers. As a channel admin, your phone number and profile photo won’t be shown to followers. Likewise, following a channel won’t reveal your phone number to the admin or other followers. Who you decide to follow is your choice and it’s private.
Similar to how we build messaging, we don’t believe Channel updates should have to stick around forever. So we’ll only store channel history on our servers for up to 30 days and we’ll add ways to make updates disappear even faster from follower’s devices. Admins will also have the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channel.
Lastly, we’ll make it possible for admins to decide who can follow their channel and whether they want their channel to be discoverable in the directory or not. Given the aim of Channels is to reach a wide audience, channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default. We do think there are some cases where end-to-end encrypted channels to a limited audience might make sense, such as a non profit or health organization, and we’re exploring this as a future option as well.
To kick off Channels, we’re excited to work with leading global voices and select organizations in Colombia and Singapore, where Channels will first be available, to build, learn, and adapt the experience. We’ll bring Channels to more countries and the ability for anyone to create a channel over the coming months.
We also believe there is an opportunity to support admins with a way for them to build a business around their channel using our expanding payment services as well as the ability to promote certain channels in the directory to help increase awareness.
Naturally, the core of how people use WhatsApp will continue to be private messaging among friends, family, and communities, and that will always be our first priority. Building channels is a big step our users have asked us to take for years. We think the time is finally right to introduce a simple, reliable, and private broadcast tool and we hope you enjoy using it in the months and years to come.