WhatsApp is currently testing a new feature dubbed Communities, which allows users to organize groups into larger structures that could be used in workplaces or schools.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Meta, the parent company, announced this in a Facebook post, saying that the new WhatsApp feature will allow for deeper levels of digital interaction among the mobile platform’s over two billion users.
WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart stated that the feature would group groups, which are limited to 256 users, under larger umbrellas where administrators could send alerts to a community of thousands.
He stated that there are no current plans to charge for the new feature, which is currently being beta tested with a small number of global communities, but he did not rule out the possibility of offering “premium features to enterprise” in the future.
The messaging service, which has approximately 2 billion users and is end-to-end encrypted, stated that the Communities feature would also be end-to-end encrypted.
WhatsApp has had to deal with issues such as bulk messaging and the spread of misinformation and hate speech. Cathcart stated that users would not be able to search for different Communities on WhatsApp and that the new feature would include anti-abuse tools and safeguards such as forwarding limits.
Before the launch of Communities, WhatsApp said it would make changes to its Groups feature. It announced that group administrators would be able to remove problematic messages from everyone’s chat, that voice calling for up to 32 people would be added, that file sharing would be increased to 2 gigabytes, and that emoji reactions would be added to messages.
Communities will be available in the coming months, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Thursday post. Meta, he said, would be developing community messaging features for Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.
Meta also intends to implement end-to-end encryption across all of its messaging services on its apps as part of its ongoing, public shift toward privacy.