WhatsApp's new Communities will substantially expand networking groups

"The way we communicate online is changing."
Brad Bergan
WhatsApp logo, floating in a big green void.Dima Solomin / Unsplash

Group messaging on WhatsApp is about to change forever.

Beginning this week, WhatsApp is substantially expanding its services with a new tab that enables thousands of participants in a Community to host multiple sub-group chats — in a bid to help institutions and firms communicate on WhatsApp with a more structured format, according to a Facebook post from Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp.

The new tab will first see a small test rollout with select groups, and then expand into a wide network.

Meta's Zuckerberg is updating WhatsApp to leverage how we're using the internet differently

Meta has thrown billions of dollars into the forthcoming digital infrastructure of the Web3 world — but until that reaches fruition, the Zuckerberg empire is considering messaging as a means of creating more intimate connections between users. And the new WhatsApp Communities tab will enable users to share sentiments and directives to larger group chats, with supportive features like 32-person group calls, emoji reactions, file sharing, moderation controls, admin tools, and much, much more.

This product didn't come from nothing — Meta has been developing this tool for a long time as the next iteration for its messaging platform. And it's designed to leverage WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption feature, in addition to the demand of consumers for private communities beyond the scope of conventional social media platforms, including Facebook.

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The challenge posed to other messaging platforms like Telegram — which has become a vital source of authentic global communication in the wake of the Russo-Ukraine conflict — and also Signal or iMessage, is in the expanded regimentation of WhatsApp Communties' structure.

"It's been clear for a while that the way we communicate online is changing," said Zuckerberg in his Facebook post debuting the new WhatsApp feature. "Most of us use social networks and feeds to discover interesting content and stay updated. But for a deeper level of interaction, messaging has become the center of our digital lives. It's more intimate and private, and with encryption it's more secure too."

WhasApp Communities
WhatsApp Communities will transform encrypted messaging sub-group structures. Source: WhatsApp

WhatsApp Communities requires the intimacy of sharing a phone number

Some will compare the new WhatsApp Communities feature to Facebook Groups, which exists somewhere between encrypted messaging platforms and conventional social media. Right now, roughly 1.8 billion consumers use Facebook Groups. And WhatsApp Communities would allow users to greatly expand networking groups.

For example, if a fan page opened a sub-group to discuss an upcoming event, it could find ways to better organize its logistics, costs, attendance, and participation. Schools could host sub-groups for varying grades or extracurricular activities.

Crucial to note in the difference between Facebook Groups and WhatsApp Communities is the necessity of sharing one item of highly intimate information: your phone number. "When you're interacting with people on WhatsApp, there's a necessary comfort with exchanging your phone number with them," said Will Cathcart, in a Tech Crunch report.

"So that points towards communities where you know these people in real life," added Cathcart. "Maybe you don't have every phone number of every parent in your kid's class, but you're comfortable interacting with them in that way." With a greater emphasis on structuring sub-groups for a more trusted, encrypted, and personal experience, WhatsApp (and by extension, Meta and Zuckerberg) are continuing to unfold the next generation of app software to prepare for the rise of the Web3 world.

This was developing news and was updated as new information became available.

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