WhatsApp is gradually unlocking a new feature called "Channels" in Germany. The feature allows companies such as Netflix and Sony Pictures, as well as media and sports teams such as FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, to share posts with WhatsApp users. Some influencers and celebrities, such as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, are already running their own channels through which texts, images and short videos are published in their name. Users can discover and subscribe to new channels directly in the app using a search function.
WhatsApp explains the new feature that it wanted to develop a so-called broadcast service that prioritizes privacy: "The channels are separate from your chats, and the people you follow are not visible to other subscribers. We also protect the personal data of administrators and followers.«
In the app itself, the posts of subscribed channels can be found under the menu item "News", which also includes the status messages of personal contacts. The largest channel, with 5.4 million subscribers, which appeared in the "Popular" section on Friday afternoon, is that of the Real Madrid football club. In the coming days, however, many channels are still expected to see great growth. After the channel function was previously available in only ten countries, it is now being rolled out in more than 150 countries, including Germany.
No chance of celebrity cell phone numbers
The options for users to react to the postings in the channels are clear: So far, they have been limited to six emojis, including "thumbs up", a heart and a crying face. The phone number of the channel operator is not displayed to subscribers, unlike normal WhatsApp conversations.
WhatsApp deletes the content posted in channels after 30 days. During this period, it should be possible to edit them subsequently. In addition, according to WhatsApp, it is possible for administrators to block screenshots as well as redirects from their channels.
Private users have not yet been able to create their own WhatsApp channels.