WhatsApp has officially announced Communities — a major addition to its existing group chat and broadcast list feature set.
It also said there would be several changes to how groups work on WhatsApp, regardless of whether they are part of a community.
It started testing this feature with users in Argentina at the end of March.
News that WhatsApp was working on Communities first emerged in October last year. However, little was known beyond its name and link to WhatsApp Groups.
In November, details started to emerge, including that admins would be able to create several group chats under one community.
There would also be a main group that would act as a broadcast list that only admins can post to.
WhatsApp has now finally confirmed Communities and released information about what to expect from the feature.
“Communities on WhatsApp will enable people to bring together separate groups under one umbrella with a structure that works for them,” WhatsApp announced in a blog post on Thursday.
“Communities will also contain powerful new tools for admins, including announcement messages that are sent to everyone and control over which groups can be included.”
In a separate blog post, WhatsApp detailed the following features for Communities:
Conversations in Communities remain end-to-end encrypted. Phone numbers will be visible to Community admins. Your phone number will become visible to members of the same groups as you but otherwise remain hidden. Admins can add existing groups to the Community and unlink groups.
Admins can remove individual members from the Community entirely. Group admins will be able to delete inappropriate or abusive chats and media for all group members. Users can control who is allowed to add them to a Community. Communities will be private. No search or discovery option like Telegram.
“To limit noise and overload, only Community admins will be able to send messages to all Community members — this is called the announcement group for the community,” WhatsApp stated.
“We will initially support community announcements for several thousands of users.”
WhatsApp said it continues to constrain message forwarding.
“With the introduction of Communities, messages that have already been forwarded will only be able to be forwarded to one group at a time, rather than five, which is today’s forward limit,” it said.
“We believe this will meaningfully reduce the spread of potentially harmful misinformation in community groups.”
WhatsApp did not announce a launch date for Communities.
However, it said the following changes to WhatsApp Groups would be rolling out “in the coming weeks”.
Changes to WhatsApp Groups WhatsApp said it believes these new features for groups will help people share in new ways and reduce overload in larger chats:
Silently leave a group — Users will be able to leave groups without notifying everyone.
Reactions — Emoji reactions are coming to WhatsApp so people can quickly share their opinion without flooding chats with new messages.
Admin Delete — Group admins will be able to remove messages from everyone’s chats.
File Sharing — File sharing will support files up to 2GB.
Larger voice calls — One-tap voice calls for up to 32 people, with a revamped design.