WhatsApp channels: How to join, privacy features, everything you need to know

As a WhatsApp user, you may have noticed a new tab on the ‘Updates’ section of the mobile application – WhatsApp channels.

Created by the developer, which is owned by Meta, WhatsApp channels allows users to stay update with the latest news, world updates and more.

Initially rolled out in June 2023, WhatsApp introduced ‘Channels’ for users as “a simple,reliable, and private way to receive important updates from people and organisations, right within WhatsApp,” the messaging app company said in a statement.

By using Channels on WhatsApp, brands, news organisations, governments and public personalities can directly pass on information, news, updates to users that follow their channel.

However, it is worth noting that Channels serve as a one-way communication tool, allowing administrators to disseminate text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls.

To facilitate users in finding channels aligned with their interests, WhatsApp is constructing a searchable directory, offering a diverse range of topics, including hobbies, sports teams, and updates from local authorities.

Users can also access channels through invitation links shared via chats, email, or online postings.

Will my number be visible to other users on a WhatsApp channel when I join?

The answer is: No.

Privacy is a top priority for WhatsApp, and with Channels, both administrators and followers will have their personal information safeguarded.

Admins’ phone numbers and profile photos will remain hidden from followers, and following a channel will not expose the follower’s phone number to the admin or other followers.

WhatsApp intends to store channel history on its servers for a maximum of 30 days and plans to implement features for rapid deletion of updates from followers’ devices.

Admins will also have the option to block screenshots and forwards from their channels.

Moreover, WhatsApp will empower admins to determine who can follow their channels and whether they want their channels to be discoverable in the directory.

While Channels are not end-to-end encrypted by default, WhatsApp is exploring the possibility of introducing end-to-end encrypted channels for specific cases, such as non-profit organisations or health entities.

Despite these updates, WhatsApp emphasises that its primary focus will always be private messaging among individuals, underscoring the importance of preserving users’ privacy while offering a new avenue for information dissemination through Channels.


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