WhatsApp launches a new “communities” feature

Today WhatsApp group chats are limited to 256 people.

WhatsApp unveiled new features, Thursday, April 14, starting with the next launch of “communities”, which will allow administrators to bring together several discussion groups in the same space and thus address a large number of people. Messaging, owned by the American company Meta (Facebook, Instagram), aims to meet the needs of “certain structures, such as schools, local associations or non-profit organizations”whose “Now they trust WhatsApp to communicate securely and organize themselves”. The new feature must be tested for two months before being rolled out internationally.

Today, WhatsApp chat groups are still limited to 256 people. But, from now on, the communities will allow several existing groups to gather in the same place, such as parents of students from different courses in the same school. Like a virtual bulletin board, only administrators will be able to post messages, which, like conventional messages, will be end-to-end encrypted.

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admin moderators

Communities can also be used for businesses. “If a restaurant wants to form a group to share their menus or send promotions, they can do it”noted Jyoti Sood, before clarifying that Meta was not planning “monetize” the communities.

In addition, WhatsApp will evolve the discussion groups, the backbone of its operation:

  • Like Facebook’s reaction palette, users will now be able to reply to messages with emoji buttons;
  • the size of shared files will be expanded to 2 GB and the maximum number of participants in a voice call will be increased to 32 people;
  • administrators “Groups will be able to delete inappropriate or problematic messages for all members of the discussion”thus reinforcing its moderating role.
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These new possibilities, which will unfold ” In the next weeks “According to the press release, they are reminiscent of Telegram channels, the Russian messaging system that allows messages to be broadcast to a large audience, in channels open to the public or in private discussions that require an invitation.

However, in WhatsApp, the content can only be transferred to one group at a time, to avoid spam phenomena. Users will also not be able to search for communities they would like to join in messaging: they will need to be part of a group and thus have been added by an administrator. “Telegram allows conversations for hundreds of thousands of people; WhatsApp communities will continue to be a private messaging service that allows people to communicate privately with nearby people or groups.”explained Christina LoNigro, WhatsApp spokesperson, quoted by Agence France-Presse.

Meta has been harshly criticized for the problems of moderation and transparency of its social networks, but also of its messaging systems such as WhatsApp, which are all the more opaque since the exchanges are private and encrypted. The messaging service, which has more than two billion users worldwide as of February 2020, has often been criticized for being a space for the circulation of “fake news”.

Also read: “Infox” in Brazil: how false information flooded WhatsApp

The world with AFP

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