WhatsApp Communities are rolling out to users along with 32 person video calling, in-chat polls, and larger groups
In April this year, WhatsApp revealed that it was building a way for large groups of people to discuss things through its instant messaging service. It's here, WhatsApp Communities are now rolling out to users globally.
Communities are essentially a way to connect multiple groups together, such as neighborhoods, workplaces, clubs and schools. Users may create a new Community by adding members to it, or add existing groups to form one larger group. For example, you may create a Community for your neighborhood by adding the groups from each building to it. Users can switch between groups and communities whenever they want to.
Image courtesy: WhatsApp
WhatsApp says that the privacy restrictions that users have set to control who can add them to groups, will also apply to Communities. Users may block accounts, report abuse, or leave Communities at anytime. This includes leaving a group silently without notifying other members in a group.
All messages in WhatsApp Communities are end-to-end encrypted to protect the messages and media shared among the groups. Your phone number will be hidden from the Community, it can only be accessed by the admins, and other members in your own group. Admins can share important updates to all members in the Community, remove individual members, unlink a group, and delete inappropriate chats and media for all members.
You may want to read WhatsApp's Communities FAQ for more details about the privacy and security features that it offers. To access the new feature, tap the Communities tab from the Chats page on your phone. It's located at the top on Android devices, and at the bottom on iPhones.
WhatsApp is also adding support for three new features, these aren't exclusive to Communities, and so can be used in any group.
In-chat polls, 32 person video calling and larger groups
Users can now create in-chat polls in a group to get feedback from other members in the group regarding a topic. Based on the above image, it appears that the votes are public, i.e. it can be viewed by other members in the group.
The Meta-owned service introduced support for Call Links in September 2022, which allowed users to invite up to 32 people to join a group voice call. WhatsApp now supports 32 person video calling as well. The instant messaging platform increased the size limit for groups from 256 members to 512 in June this year, it has doubled it again, a WhatsApp group can now house up to 1024 users.
WhatsApp Online Presence
WhatsApp is also introducing a new privacy setting that lets you control who can see your online presence. To set it, go to the app's Settings > Privacy page, and choose who can see your last seen and online status. Turning your online presence off will also prevent you from viewing the online status of your contacts.
WhatsApp Communities may not be available on your phone yet, it isn't for me either. That's because the feature is being rolled out gradually. The announcement from Meta says that it might take a few months for Communities to be available for all users.
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