Bengalaru/New Delhi: WhatsApp is globally rolling out a feature called Communities to organize various chat groups in larger structures, as well as other features such as bigger group video calls and in-chat polls, the messaging service owned by Meta Platforms said on Thursday.
The Communities feature will bring together various chat groups under bigger umbrellas where administrators could send alerts to a community of thousands a feature that could be used by workplaces or schools.
Meta Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg posted a video on Facebook to announce the new feature, calling it a "major evolution for WhatsApp".
"We're launching Communities on WhatsApp. It makes groups better by enabling sub-groups, multiple threads, announcement channels, and more. All secured by end to end encryption so your messages stay private," he said.
The new feature will allow admins to better organise the conversations "under one umbrella", Zuckerberg added.
To get started, users can tap on the new communities tab at the top of their chats on Android and at the bottom on iOS. They will be able to start a new Community from scratch or add existing groups.
Once in a community, users can easily switch between available groups to get the information they need, when they need it, and admins can send important updates to everyone in the Community.
With Communities, WhatsApp said it is aiming to raise the bar for how organizations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else.
The app will now also allow chat groups to have up to 1,024 users, much higher than the 256 participants restriction it had until recently, according to a company statement.
WhatsApp rivals, including Telegram and Discord, allow thousands of members in group chats.
Other feature releases include 32-person video calling as well as in-chat polls, a common fixture on social media apps, including Meta's Facebook and Twitter.
The company has been working with over 50 organisations in 15 countries to build Communities to meet their needs and is excited that the feedback so far is that these new tools are helping groups like these better organise and achieve their goals.
Meanwhile, as Meta doubled down on its monetisation drive across its family of apps, Zuckerberg had said that JioMart on WhatsApp in India was going to be a big opportunity for the paid messaging market.
During the company's Q3 earnings call, the CEO said that paid messaging was another opportunity that we were starting to tap into.
"We launched JioMart on WhatsApp in India, and it was our first end-to-end shopping experience that showed the potential for chat-based commerce through messaging," Zuckerberg told analysts.