WhatsApp to Launch Communities Feature for Larger Discussions

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Meta-owned instant messaging app, WhatsApp, will get a new feature called Communities that will allow users to participate in larger discussion groups.

The groups aim to serve as a more feature-rich replacement for people’s larger group chats with added support for tools like file-sharing, 32-person group calls, emoji reactions, as well as admin tools and moderation controls, among other things.

WhatsApp will also empower group admins to delete unwanted messages from the group chat for everyone.

“Communities on WhatsApp will enable people to bring together separate groups under one umbrella with a structure that works for them. That way people can receive updates sent to the entire Community and easily organize smaller discussion groups on what matters to them,” wrote WhatsApp in a blog post on Thursday.

With the reactions feature, people can instantly react to messages with emojis by long-pressing the chat.

Also, people will be able to send up to 2GB of files compared to the current 100MB file-sharing that users can do at the moment.

With the large voice calls feature, 32 people can join together at a time with a new design interface.

“Organizations like schools, local clubs, and non-profit organizations now rely on WhatsApp to communicate securely and get things done – especially since the pandemic forced us all to find creative ways to work together while apart.

“We think Communities will make it easier for a school principal to bring all the parents of the school together to share must-read updates and set up groups about specific classes, extracurricular activities, or volunteer needs,” the blog post added.

On his part, Meta CEO, Mr Mark Zuckerberg, explained that, “It’s been clear for a while that the way we communicate online is changing.”

“Most of us use social networks and feeds to discover interesting content and stay updated. But for a deeper level of interaction, messaging has become the centre of our digital lives. It’s more intimate and private, and with encryption, it’s more secure too,” he added.

There will be a difference between Facebook Groups and WhatsApp Communities with the latter focusing on more private and personal groups — including those where members may already be connected in other ways, including in the real world.

According to the Head of WhatsApp, Mr Will Cathcart of the difference, “we’re phone number-based.”

“When you’re interacting with people on WhatsApp, there’s a necessary comfort with exchanging your phone number with them. So that points towards communities where you know these people in real life.

“Maybe you don’t have every phone number of every parent in your kid’s class, but you’re comfortable interacting with them in that way,” he explained.

In Communities, users will also be able to see the phone numbers of the others who participate in the sub-groups with them, or when they engage with each other one-on-one.

To get started with Communities, admins will be able to link a pre-existing group chat to the new feature or create a new group from scratch.

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