Facebook merely installed its VP of Internet.org as the new head of WhatsApp after its CEO Jan Koum left the company. And now Facebook is expanding its mission to get people into “meaningful” groups to WhatsApp. Today, WhatsApp launched a slew of new features for Groups on iOS and Android that let admins set a description for their community and choose who can change the Groups sets. Meanwhile, users will be able to get a Group catch up that proves messages they were mentioned in, and search for people in the group.
Group improvements will help WhatsApp better compete with Telegram, which has recently emerged as an insanely popular platform for chat groups, especially around cryptocurrency. Telegram has plenty of admin controls of its own, but the two apps is likely to be vying over who can make it easiest to digest these fast-moving chats forums.
” These are features are based on user petitions. We develop the product based on what our users want and require” a WhatsApp spokesperson told me when asked why it’s making this update.” There are also people coming together in groups on WhatsApp like new parents go looking for support, students coordinating study sessions, and even city leaders coordinating relief efforts after natural disasters .”
Facebook is on a quest to get 1 billion users into “meaningful” Groups and lately said it now has hit the 200 million user milestone. Groups could help people strengthen their ties with their city or niche interests, who are capable of make them feel less alone.
With Group descriptions, admins can explain the purpose and rules of a group. They show up when people check out the group and appear atop the chat window when they join. New admin controls let them limit who is allowed to alter a group’s topic, icon, and description. WhatsApp is also inducing it tougher to re-add somebody to a group they left so you can’t” Group-add-spam people “. Together, they are able make sure people find relevant groups, naturally acclimate to their culture, and don’t troll everyone.
As for users, the new Group catch up feature offers a new@ button in the bottom right of the chat window that when tapped, surfaces all your answers and mentions since you last checked. And if you want to find person specific in the Group, the new participant search on the Info page could let you turn a group chat into a private convo with someone you meet.
Now that WhatsApp has a stunning 1.5 billion users compared to 200 million on Telegram, its next stage of growth may come from deepening engagement instead of simply adding more accounts. Many people already do most of their one-on-one chatting with friends on WhatsApp, but Groups could invite tons of the amount of time spent as users participate in communities of strangers around their interests.
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