Mexico,.WhatsApp is testing a new feature called Communities to organize groups into larger structures that could be used by workplaces or schools, Meta Platforms-owned messaging service FB.O reported Thursday.
WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart said the feature would bring groups, which are capped at 256 users, under larger umbrellas where administrators could send alerts to a community of thousands of people.
This is really geared towards the communities you’re already a part of in your life,” Cathcart said in an interview with Reuters, citing Salesforce CRM.N-owned Slack or Microsoft Teams MSFT.O as comparable types of communication.
He explained there were no plans to charge for the new feature, which is being beta tested with a small number of global communities, but did not rule out offering “premium features to businesses” in the future.
The messaging service, which is end-to-end encrypted and has some 2 billion users, said the Communities feature would also be end-to-end encrypted.
WhatsApp has faced abuses such as mass messaging and the spread of misinformation and hate speech. Cathcart said that users will not be able to search for different Communities on WhatsApp and that it will use anti-abuse tools and safeguards such as forwarding limits for the new feature.
WhatsApp said there would also be changes to its Groups feature before the Communities launch. It will add the ability for group admins to delete problematic chat messages, introduce voice calls for up to 32 people, increase file sharing to 2 gigabytes, and add emoji reactions.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Thursday that the Communities would be rolling out in the coming months. He added that Meta would create community messaging features for Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.
Meta also plans to roll out end-to-end encryption to its other app messaging services as part of its ongoing, declared privacy shift.
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