WhatsApp update: Messenger makes shared groups public

In the future you can see on WhatsApp whether there are groups that you have in common with someone. All you need to do is look at a person’s contact information. Group admins also have more control over who can join a group.

Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg reports on the messenger update on his Instagram broadcast channel. This is also a recently introduced way of connecting with followers. So far, however, it is only available to selected users. You can communicate in it, just follow fans and react with emojis or participate in polls.

Up to 1024 members can join a group on WhatsApp. They cannot be found as publicly as with Telegram, for example, but due to their size, groups that resemble open channels develop. Until now, only one link was required to join. Administrators can now add an additional hurdle: New members require approval from the admins. This also applies to communities that WhatsApp introduced last year – with up to 5,000 members. These can be understood as a kind of meta-groups: The community is, for example, the superordinate chat of a club, but within the chat there are also sub-groups that deal with smaller topics. According to the blog post, the consent function should be available to all users in the coming weeks.

Another new feature is finding common groups and communities. It also shows that the way is towards open channels. In future, the contact information of a saved profile will show whether and which groups you have in common. This feature will also appear in the coming weeks. It is not yet clear whether it will be possible to hide the information so that friends and contacts do not see which common groups you are in.

While WhatsApp and Instagram are getting functions that make conversations more public, WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart recently warned again that chat control could provide a “golden template for authoritarian systems”. For years he has been fighting against weakening of encryption by governments. According to a report by Politico Europe, Cathcart emphasized that the interventions in encrypted chats currently planned by the British government and the EU Commission are an existential threat to the private communication of citizens. Of course, these are private chats, not public channels.


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