SAN FRANCISCO: WhatsApp on Thursday began letting select organizations try a new feature called “Channels” that lets them broadcast to followers on the popular, Meta-owned messaging service.
The debut comes as an array of agencies and organizations grow disenchanted with Elon Musk-owned Twitter in the face of fees, performance problems, and dramatically scaled-back content moderation.
Meta described Channels as “a simple, reliable, and private way to receive important updates from people and organizations, right within WhatsApp.”
A video shared by Meta showed the potential for Channels to keep people up to date on race results, soccer match outcomes, weather, and traffic, and even share cooking or home repair tips.
“We think the time is finally right to introduce a simple, reliable, and private broadcast tool,” Meta said in a post.
Meta said WhatsApp’s priority will continue to be private messaging, but that users have been asking for a feature like Channels for years.
WhatsApp is known for encryption that protects against snooping.
More than two billion people around the world use WhatsApp, according to the platform.
Meta said it is exploring the option of making encrypted channels available for groups such as nonprofits or health organizations where that level of security might be needed.
Channels was described as a one-way broadcast tool that lets account administrators sent text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls.
Global launch partners include the International Rescue Committee and the World Health Organization, as well as the FC Barcelona and Manchester City football clubs, according to Meta.
The Silicon Valley tech titan said it planned to gradually expand availability of Channels in the months ahead.