Message service WhatsApp will soon introduce a new function with which it wants to make group conversations more clear. Communities allow users to bring multiple groups under one umbrella.
Administrators can link different groups with each other using the new Community feature. Users who are members of one of those groups then choose which other groups within the Community to join or not. Only administrators will be able to address the entire Community at once. When the new feature will be rolled out exactly and which countries will be next, the part of Facebook mother Meta has not yet been announced.
With the intervention, WhatsApp hopes to make groups more transparent. ‘Usually, you have a group chat for the whole neighbourhood’, gives product manager Jyoti Sood as an example. ‘It is bombarded with various subjects.’ Instead, local residents can create multiple groups for different topics under one umbrella by creating a community. So, for example, they could have separate conversations about picking up children from school, events, or hobbies. This means that local residents do not have to plough through messages about topics that do not interest them.
WhatsApp will remain a chat service and not become a social network, emphasising product director Alice Newton-Rex. It will, therefore, not be possible to search for Communities. “Admins can only add people whose phone number they already have.” In addition, there will be a ‘thoughtful’ limit on the number of members of a Community and the forwarding of messages to avoid information overload.
To protect users’ privacy, phone numbers within a Community will not automatically be visible to others. This is only the case, as is already the case, for those who are in the same group together.
WhatsApp is also rolling out a range of other improvements to group conversations. For example, the maximum size of shared files will be increased significantly to 2 gigabytes, and up to 32 people will be able to participate in voice conversations. There will also be emoji reactions to prevent chats from being flooded with new separate messages, and group managers will be able to delete messages from others for everyone. “These features will be released in the following weeks and months, separate from the Communities,” said Sood.