Sunday, April 14, 2024

WhatsApp Rolls Out Telegram-like Channels in India

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WhatsApp has introduced a major new capability called ‘WhatsApp Channels’ in India and over 150 other countries. This feature will allow organizations, businesses, community leaders and public figures to broadcast updates to a large number of people on the popular messaging platform.

It is to be noted that Meta is releasing various features to make its platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook and recently launched Threads app more capable. Recently launched HD Photo and Video sharing for its Indian Users.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself introduced WhatsApp Channels, creating his own channel to share Meta news and updates with users. He expressed his anticipation of connecting with people globally through this new feature.

WhatsApp Channels was initially launched in Colombia and Singapore in June. Simultaneously, the Broadcast Channels feature on Instagram was made available globally.

Purpose and Nature of Channels

Channels have been designed by as a one-way broadcasting tool. Admins of channels will be able to send out updates as messages containing text, photos, videos, stickers and polls. However, regular users who follow channels will not be able to post messages within channels directly. They can only receive the updates from channel admins.

WhatsApp

This transforms WhatsApp into a platform where important announcements and updates from businesses, brands, celebrities and thought leaders can reach a wide audience in a structured manner. The one-way nature maintains organization, while followers still have features like forwarding and personalized reactions even though they cannot post directly.

Inspiration from Telegram

The concept of channels in WhatsApp draws inspiration from Telegram Messenger, another popular instant messaging service. Telegram channels are widely used for purposes such as news dissemination, sharing website or blog updates, product or service promotion, educational content sharing, and community building around shared interests. They provide an organized and structured way to reach a large audience with information.

Accessing Channels on WhatsApp

Channels will be accessible to users in India and other countries through a new tab called ‘Updates’ within WhatsApp, separate from the tab for chats. This tab will also contain users’ personal status updates.

It is to be noted that Channels has begun rolling out but isn’t available to everyone yet. You can join the waitlist to be notified when WhatsApp Channels is available to you.

To access WhatsApp Channels, you can try these steps:

  1. Update your WhatsApp app to the latest version.
  2. Open and tap the Updates tab, Which will available where status tab is located currently.
  3. Tap the Find Channels button or See all at the bottom to go to the channels directory page.
  4. To follow a channel, tap the ‘+’ button next to its name.

WhatsApp will recommend channels to follow based on users’ locations, interests and popularity of 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. Admins will also have the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channel.” said Meta in their blog post about the same.

WhatsApp will provide channel admins with options to decide who can follow their channel and control discoverability in the directory. This launch marks the beginning, with more features and capabilities planned based on user feedback. In coming months, WhatsApp aims to allow any user to create a channel themselves.

It’s important to note that Channels are distinct from regular chats. The choice of channels to follow is not visible to other followers, ensuring user privacy.The list of members will also not be visible to other followers, maintaining privacy.

Despite the one-way nature, followers can react to messages with emojis and forward updates frequently. This allows personalization and engagement even without being able to post.

Global Rollout Plans

The WhatsApp Channels capability is being gradually rolled out worldwide to users everywhere over the coming weeks. In the future, WhatsApp aims to allow any user to be able to create a channel to broadcast updates relevant for their audiences and followers.

This will significantly expand the information sharing and communication potential of WhatsApp, allowing it to be used for large-scale broadcasting by ordinary users. The platform hopes the new functionality will boost user engagement.

Notable Early Adopters

In India, the very launch of Channels saw adoption by prominent names across fields. The Indian Cricket Team has launched its channel for follower engagement in the build up to the ICC Men’s World Cup. Actors like Katrina Kaif, Diljit Dosanjh, Akshay Kumar and Vijay Deverakonda have indicated plans to use Channels to better connect with fans. Several community leaders and businesses are also testing out the new capability.

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