Imitation is the best form of flattery? Ask Snapchat, and now Telegram.
WhatsApp has just released a one-way broadcast feature for groups in what is a copy of rival messaging app Telegram’s key channel feature.
The new setting, announced on WhatsApp’s official blog, will allow group admins to send out important announcements and information without being interrupted by any tangential conversation from receivers. This is particularly useful for school and college groups, NGOs, news agencies, and so on.
But, the new feature’s similarity with Telegram’s popular one-way channel broadcast is unmistakable. Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, has in the past aped Snapchat’s features and brought them to Instagram. Now, by going after Telegram which counts 200 million monthly active users, Facebook has validated its competition in the fast-growing social messaging space.
“One way people use groups is to receive important announcements and information, including parents and teachers at schools, community centres, and non-profit organisations. We've introduced this new setting so admins can have better tools for these use cases,” WhatsApp announced.
The new feature can be enabled by tapping on Group Info > Group Settings > Send Messages > Only Admins. WhatsApp said that the feature has been rolled out to users all over the world and is available with the latest app upgrade. WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion monthly users, of which 200 million are in India.
Unlike Telegram, though, users who choose to sign up for the one-way broadcasts will have to do so with their phone numbers. Telegram, with its username system, has eliminated the need for sharing phone numbers, thus ensuring better privacy in groups. Incidentally, Telegram faced a ban in Russia recently for being an encrypted platform.
WhatsApp, meanwhile, has launched a spate of new features in the past few months. Prior to this, it introduced ‘group descriptions’ that allows new members to catch-up with the goings-on in a particular group. Last week, WhatsApp also announced that it would be setting up an all-day customer helpline in India for its WhatsApp Pay service (that is yet to have a full rollout).