WhatsApp wants to turn your group chats into “Communities”
WhatsApp will begin experimenting with Communities, an update that represents a “major evolution” for the messaging app, according to Mark Zuckerberg. An unreleased version of the feature has been spotted for the first time Last yearbut the company had not confirmed its existence until now.
Communities will allow people to combine separate group chats “under one umbrella with a structure that works for them,” WhatsApp wrote in a post. blog post. “That way people can get updates sent out to the whole community and easily organize smaller discussion groups about what matters to them.”
The company didn’t share details on exactly how these groups will be formed, but a spokesperson said the idea is to give “close-knit groups” more ways to communicate beyond chat features. currently offered by WhatsApp. The company will begin testing the feature later this year in “select countries,” but will eventually make it available globally.
In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg mentioned that communities would be a major change for WhatsApp and Meta, which emphasize “streams” and traditional social networking features less than “community messaging”.
“In the same way that social feeds took the core technology behind the internet and made it so anyone could find people and content online, I think community messaging will take the core protocols behind messaging. and expand them so you can communicate more easily with groups of people to get things done together,” he wrote, adding that Meta is also working on similar features for Messenger, WhatsApp and Facebook.
It’s also a playbook that Meta has used in the past. In 2017, Zuckerberg attempted reorient Facebook around groups and “meaningful communities”. The company has started building a new feature for groups and encouraging users to join as part of its new mission to “bring the world together”. Zuckerberg seems to be following the same strategy now with WhatsApp, which is far more popular than Facebook in much of the world.
Making WhatsApp more like Groups on Facebook also comes with some risks. Facebook’s earlier pivot to Groups may have resulted in an increase polarization on the platform, and the groups have also been categorized as main sources misinformation on the platform. And WhatsApp, which due to its encryption lacks many of Facebook’s moderation tools, has already battled misinformation and other problematic content. Making it even easier to connect disparate group threads in one place could potentially exacerbate these issues.