WhatsApp Communities rolls out globally to take on the likes of Slack

3 Nov 2022

Image: WhatsApp

Communities on WhatsApp will support groups of more than 1,000 users and video calls with up to 32 participants.

Meta is finally rolling out the new Communities feature on WhatsApp.

While the company has been testing the feature since April, Communities will be made available to all WhatsApp users from today (3 November) – aiming to further develop the group chat capabilities on one of the world’s most popular messaging apps.

Communities is pitched essentially as ‘a group of groups’ that will help users bring related group chats together, organise conversations and find information quicker.

The feature is aimed at communities such as schools, neighbourhoods or even workplaces.

Supporting groups of more than 1,000 users and up to 32 participants on video calls, Communities could pose competition to the likes of Slack and Discord.

Meta previously gave the example of school principals who could create WhatsApp communities for parents to access information from individual class groups present within those communities. Neighbourhoods could also have their own communities to discuss local matters.

Zuckerberg said that Communities will represent a natural evolution of WhatsApp from a way to connect with close friends and family to a place where users can stay in touch with “all of the different communities in your life” while still ensuring privacy and security through encryption.

This means Communities could challenge platforms such as Slack and Discord by giving users the added advantage of being able to communicate through WhatsApp – which is end-to-end encrypted and already used by around 2bn people.

While many of the features of Communities were revealed back in April, some of the new ones are video calls for up to 32 people and group size limit being boosted to 1,024. Other features such as polls and shareable call links are also designed to enhance the messaging experience.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the encryption aspect of Communities in particular will “raise the bar for how organisations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else”.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic