WhatsApp has launched Channels, a new feature that allows users to follow celebrities, brands and anyone else they want for updates directly from them.
On Sept. 14, Meta announced that it would roll out the new WhatsApp Channels feature to over 150 countries over the next several weeks.
The new tool will allow users to have another way to connect with friends, family and well-known figures and brands that have already signed up, including Olivia Rodrigo, David Guetta, Bad Bunny, football clubs like Man City and companies like Netflix. Perhaps less surprisingly, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of WhatsApp’s developer Meta, has also joined the platform.
The tool is making its debut to a world already saturated with social media platforms and communication tools, such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and X — the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Here’s everything we know about the new feature so far:
What is the Channels feature in WhatsApp?
Based on Meta's announcement, the Channels feature appears to work very much like the group chat tool on cell phones.
However, if being looped into mass group texts where the onslaught of replies from unknown numbers raises your blood pressure, Channels might put you at ease. Instead, it appears that Channels takes the group chat format and puts all but one user on mute.
For instance, fans of Olivia Rodrigo can subscribe to her channel and receive updates and messages directly from her. She'll send messages to everyone who is subscribed to her channel. The catch is that those who follow her aren’t able to reply.
According to Meta’s announcement, Channels are separate from chats and the feature aims “to build the most private broadcast service available.”
Can anyone create a WhatsApp channel?
To create a channel, users must have a WhatsApp account and have the app updated to its latest version.
According to the WhatsApp Help Center, users can create a channel by opening up WhatsApp Web and clicking “Create channel.” Users will have to complete a series of prompts and will have to make a channel name.
What is the function of WhatsApp Channels?
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg painted a broader picture of the tool's purpose when he ushered in its launch with a post shared to his own channel on the app.
According to Tech Crunch, Zuckerberg wrote in his newly launched Channel that he was “excited to introduce you all to WhatsApp Channels, a new private way for you to get updates from people and organizations you follow. I’m starting this channel to share Meta news and updates.”
The Facebook founder's description of the Channels experience seems to mean that it will feel quite a bit like receiving updates from your trusted news apps and brands.