In an official announcement on his social media handles, Mark Zuckerberg announced new WhatsApp features coming to the popular messaging app – Whatsapp.
The first feature to roll out to WhatsApp users is Communities – a way to organize multiple group chats so that individual groups can stay focused on a specific topic while allowing participants to easily switch topics.
As an example, you can create a Community for your neighborhood, and then divide discussion among individual groups such as activities for group members and chores. Each Community also includes an Announcement group where moderators can share major events with the community.
However, the issue remains that communities like this may facilitate the formation of illegal or dangerous groups. The company says it will rely on unencrypted information available about the Community, such as its name, description, and user reports, to decide if action is necessary to stop such things. In case a group is used for child sexual abuse, violence, or human tracking, the company says it will ban members and admins, disband the group, or ban all the people in it, depending on the situation.
The feature was developed with input from 50 organizations in 15 countries in order to ensure it meets the needs of the community.
To prevent misinformation from spreading, the company notes that already forwarded messages can only be forwarded to one group at a time, not five, which is the current limit. Also, now the admin can permanently delete the user’s message on the group.
With WhatsApp’s new changes, Communities (but also regular group chats) will be more useful. The maximum number of participants in a group will increase from 512 to 1,024 from today, and up to 32 if you’re doing video calls. Moreover, the data size limit for file sharing will increase up to 2GB.
There is also the option to have in-chat polls that can help a group or community elect leaders without resorting to third-party tools. Like regular WhatsApp chats, Community groups are end-to-end encrypted as well.
These new features are starting to roll out today and will reach Android and iOS users worldwide over the next few months.
As soon as you get the latest WhatsApp version, you will see a new Communities tab (on the top for Android, on the bottom for iOS).