How WhatsApp Communities work

WhatsApp has released the new WhatsApp Communities feature, and Mark Zuckerberg himself announces it with a video on Facebook, along with other news about the platform.

At this point, everyone will ask ” but what are they ?”. In this article, we will answer this question, also explaining how the Communities work, and why the head of Meta himself defined them as a major evolution.

Index

  • What are WhatsApp Communities
  • How communities work
  • Example of a Community
  • Are the Communities private?

What are WhatsApp Communities

Last April, a particularly inspired Mark Zuckerberg took the floor and anticipated a series of features that would land on WhatsApp in a few months:

  • Communities 
  • Reactions with emojis 
  • Chat moderation
  • File sharing up to 2 Gigabytes
  • Video calls up to 32 participants

Many of these functions represent improvements to the groups, dragged by the great news, the Communities.

The development of the novelty started quickly, even for the Desktop version of WhatsApp, with the test phase starting in the beta channel at the end of August and the official release within two months.

But what are the communities?

Communities are designed to help large organizations such as corporations, schools, and other private groups (such as neighborhood groups) to communicate better and stay organized. In practice, they are super-groups that allow you to manage smaller groups.

WhatsApp Communities
WhatsApp Communities

Communities are structured as a core group that alerts users to all essential messages, but members can only chat in admin-approved subgroups. This prevents participants from being bombarded with messages about group events and events they are not connected to.

For example, members could create a subgroup for a volunteer project or planning group, where only a few people would need to chat.

It will be very easy for users to switch between groups to get the information they need at the right time.

This new feature might look very similar to Facebook groups as it supports subgroups, file sharing, admin features, and more. But while Facebook groups are often used by strangers who share a common interest, WhatsApp communities are meant to be used by members who may already be connected in the real world.

Unlike Facebook to be added to a WhatsApp group you need your phone number, which means that the people who join these discussion groups are already familiar with each other since they must at least have shared their number with a group administrator.

Zuckerberg said Communities will focus on feeds: ” In the same way that social feeds have taken the underlying technology behind the internet and transformed it so that anyone could find people and content online, I think the Community will take the basic protocols behind personal messaging and extend them so they can more easily communicate with groups of people to do things together. “

How communities work

Now that we’ve seen what Communities are, let’s see how they work.

According to Meta‘s announcement, with Communities you can:

  • Bring separate groups together under a larger group
  • Receive updates sent to the entire community
  • Easily organize smaller discussion groups on what matters to you
  • Use powerful tools as an administrator, including:
    • Announcement messages are sent to everyone
    • Control over which groups can be included

Upon launch, administrators of existing group chats will be able to transfer their group to Communities if they wish, or they can choose to recreate their group as a Community from scratch. Admins also have the power to add members to groups or can send invite links that allow others to become members of the community.

what Communities are
what Communities are

In the paragraph where we explained what Communities are, we talked about phone numbers. This is an interesting point, as phone numbers will be hidden from the Community and will only be visible to administrators and other members of the subgroups you participate in.

Subgroups, therefore, are real bubbles within the Community, each with its chats and private numbers that are not generally shared. This is to balance user privacy with the need to allow other group members to contact you.

Furthermore, unlike the Facebook groups that can be found on the platform, WhatsApp Communities are hidden. There will be no search and discovery feature – you must be invited to participate.

But how many people can participate in the Communities? Given the size and ambitions of the feature, the previous limit of 256 participants was a bit low. Therefore, the Communities will allow up to 1,024 people to participate.

Another important point concerns encryption. WhatsApp highlighted the cryptographic aspects of the Community feature, stating that the company ” aims to raise the bar for how organizations communicate, with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else .”

The launch of the Communities, therefore, seems an open challenge to other messaging platforms such as Telegram and Signal, but also apps designed for schools and organizations such as GroupMe or Band, and has been enhanced by the different functions announced today, such as file sharing up to 2 GBvideo calls up to 32 people and the ability to conduct surveys among the members of a group.

WhatsApp Communities Functions
WhatsApp Communities Functions

Example of a Community

Now that we have explained what Communities are and how they work, let’s take a practical example.

Let’s say you are a parent with children at school. The school is a community, but obviously, you don’t know all the other parents, and most likely not even those in the class of one of your children, but the subgroup of the class certainly collects your interests. 

Inside, you will surely have topics to discuss, and you will be much more comfortable sharing your phone number, as well as being interested in the communications that the head teacher will want to release for everyone.

From the point of view of the latter, it will certainly be an extra tool to bring together all the parents of the students, as well as to organize specific groups such as extracurricular activities or volunteer needs.

But the examples expand far beyond school boundaries. Communities will also allow other types of closed groups, such as employees of a company or even of a religious congregation, to have safe and private group conversations, and this is precisely one of the points on which Zuckerberg has placed the most. accent.

Are the Communities private?

WhatsApp has stated that communities are inherently private and, unlike Telegram, all communication between people in a community is encrypted, although a community’s name and description are not.

As we’ve seen, Zuckerberg said the goal is to improve communication for organizations with a level of privacy and security not found elsewhere, but this has a downside.

There are concerns that communities like this one can facilitate groups that engage in illegal or dangerous behavior, similar to how Facebook groups have allowed the spread of disinformation for health reasons or during elections.

WhatsApp claims that to stop these activities it will rely on available unencrypted information, such as user name, description, and reports. Furthermore, the company states that if it detects that a group is being used to distribute child pornography material, coordinate violence, or undertake the monitoring of people, it will ban individual members and administrators of the community or disband it, depending on the situation. Additionally, the company noted that the messages that have already been shared will only be forwarded to one group at a time, rather than five, which is today’s forwarding limit, to reduce the spread of disinformation.

Despite the good intentions, and the desire to regain user trust after the privacy violation problems of the recent past, these tools seem rather “blunt”. At the moment the Communities are reaching all users around the world on both Android and iOS, and it will be seen if Meta can bring out the opportunities promised by the new tool.

Read more about How To Recover Messages On WhatsApp, Even Without The Backup

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Abram left his e-business studies to devote himself to his entrepreneurial projects. In 2017, he created the company Inbound Media and wrote articles about high-tech products for his Chromebookeur site. In 2019, Chromebookeur was renamed Macbound and became a general purchasing advice site. Today, Abram manages the development and growth of Macbound, surrounded by a young and talented team.

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