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WhatsApp has announced the next big feature to launch on its messaging app: Communities.
The company made the announcement on 14 April, noting that it will begin testing Communities over the next few months.
But what exactly are they? Communities will essentially act as a management and organization tool for related groups on the platform: a directory for groups.
The company says that Communities will provide an easier way for people to keep track of and manage groups that are under one umbrella. For example, residential buildings, NGOs, small businesses, and neighbourhood groups can link a variety of groups under one Community.
“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,” the company said on its blog.
“Given lots of feedback we’ve received, we think there’s more we can do to make it easier to help people manage these busy conversations among these kinds of groups.”
For example, if you are part of multiple groups for your neighbourhood (such as neighbourhood watch, casual chat groups, and buy/sell groups), these groups could be linked under a central Community for your area.
This makes it easier to see other linked groups you may want to join.
WhatsApp Communities features
Besides providing a common hub where groups can be linked, Communities will include a few additional features.
Communities will have admins, who are able to broadcast messages to all related groups when needed. WhatsApp also plans to introduce new group features, such as the ability to react to messages with emojis, the ability for admins to delete messages from others, and an increase in the file-sharing size limit.
In terms of privacy, WhatsApp has noted that Community members won’t be able to see each other’s phone numbers. Only fellow group members and Community admins can see contact details.
Communities will also not be publicly searchable. They are aimed at people who are already part of certain groups, and want to join others related to their Community. It is not meant for anyone to be able to request and join, which makes WhatsApp Communities different to Facebook Groups.
“At the center of every Community on WhatsApp is a description and menu of groups that people can choose to join. This provides a structure and organization to conversations among larger and more complex groups that allow people to focus on what matters to them,” WhatsApp notes on its FAQ.
While Communities have been announced, it will still be some time before they are fully rolled out.
“It’s early days for Communities on WhatsApp and building the new features to support them will be a major focus of ours for the year to come. We can’t wait to get Communities in people’s hands and are looking forward to people’s feedback,” the company said.
Feature image: WhatsApp