WhatsApp's Channels came on the scene in early June and has since only made its way into ten countries. Now, Meta has announced its expanding channels to over 150 countries — quite the leap — along with adding new features and public figures.
Meta claims thousands of new organizations and celebs are coming to Channels, ranging from the MLB to Olivia Rodrigo. As part of its expansion, you should now get recommendations of accounts to follow based on your location and their popularity. Other updates include the ability to provide feedback with emojis and letting channel admins to edit their Updates for the entire 30 days before WhatsApp automatically deletes them. Arguably, the most helpful new feature for community building is that any Update you forward to friends will now link back to the original channel. WhatsApp is launching its own channel, as well, to share future updates as they come.
With Channels, Meta hopes to "build the most private broadcast service available." To this end, other users can't see who you follow, and your phone number isn't shared with someone simply because you follow them.
Channels first made its way onto fellow Meta-owned company Instagram in February as a not-so-subtle copy of Telegram's channels feature. Its expansion to WhatsApp came as one of Meta's many attempts to make the messaging app, well, more than just a basic messaging app. Much of this has involved launching features similar to other companies, such as entering and leaving ongoing group chats (Discord) and instant video messages (Snapchat, Telegram). None of this is to knock WhatsApp specifically— it's rare that you get a totally original idea on social media these days.