Meta-owned messaging platform WhatsApp launched its Channels feature in India on Wednesday night. The Mark Zuckerberg-led company says WhatsApp Channels are a private way for people to receive updates that matter to them.
The Indian Cricket Team has also launched its WhatsApp Channel, as the country and Indians all over the world gear up for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023.
"We're also welcoming some of your favourite celebrities, sports teams, artists, creators, thought leaders that people can follow, right within WhatsApp," the tech giant says.
Channels are a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. Channels can be found in a new tab called Updates on WhatsApp – where users will find Status and Channels they follow – separate from chats with family, friends, and communities.
"Our goal is to build the most private broadcast service available. This starts by protecting the personal information of both admins and followers. 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," the Meta-owned platform says.
Admins will also have the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channels. "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," it says.
"We'll also 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," the company says.
Meta says it will continue to add more features and expand Channels based on feedback it gets from users. "Over the coming months, we’ll also make it possible for anyone to create a channel," it says.
In May, WhatsApp allowed users to edit messages within 15 minutes of sending them. It came a week after WhatsApp has launched a feature that allows users to put a conversation in a folder that can only be accessed with their device’s password or biometric, like a fingerprint.
WhatsApp Channels comes at a time when India is expected to have the highest global base of social media content creators, with the number reaching 100 million this year, according to Zefmo.
In an interview with Fortune India last month, Meta India head Sandhya Devanathan said that the company hopes to upskill 2,50,000 creators in the country.
"We have doubled down on helping creators express themselves on our platform, building tools for that, and helping them monetise," Devanathan had said. Meta aims to provide the tools for creators to express themselves creatively, facilitate collaborations with creators and brands, and create a safe environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves, she said.