WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta Platforms (FB.O), is exploring a new tool called Communities to organise groups in broader structures that might be used by employers or schools.
Will Cathcart, WhatsApp’s CEO, said the function will bring together groups of up to 256 individuals under larger umbrellas where administrators could send notifications to tens of thousands of people.
“This is really targeted at the communities you’re already a part of in your life that are performing private communication,” Cathcart said in an interview, comparing Slack, which is owned by Salesforce (CRM.N), to Microsoft Teams (MSFT.O).
He added there are no plans to charge for the new function, which is now being beta tested with a small number of worldwide communities, but that “premium features to enterprise” could be offered in the future.
The messaging service, which has roughly 2 billion users and is end-to-end encrypted, said the Communities feature would be secured as well.
Bulk texting, the dissemination of misinformation, and hate speech have all been issues for WhatsApp. Users will not be able to search for other Communities on WhatsApp, according to Cathcart, and the new feature will have anti-abuse features and precautions like as sending limitations.
Before the debut of Communities, WhatsApp indicated it will make modifications to its Groups tool. It announced that group managers would be able to remove inappropriate messages from everyone’s chat, that voice calling for up to 32 people would be introduced, that file sharing would be increased to 2 gigabytes, and that emoji reactions would be added to messages.
Communities will be rolled out over the next few months, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Meta will develop community messaging services for Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, he said.
As part of its continuing, declared privacy pivot, Meta also plans to roll out end-to-end encryption across its other messaging services on its apps.