WhatsApp working on Communities feature amid concerns over privacy, report suggests

By: |
November 07, 2021 2:13 PM

Community icons will be square with rounded edges — a feature the Meta-owned platform mistakenly enabled, before quickly disabling it, in October.

Whatsapp (Reuters)The Communities feature is being seen as WhatsApp’s attempt to close the gap with rival messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram. (File/Reuters)

There is mounting evidence that WhatsApp is working on a Communities feature for Groups, according to new WABetaInfo findings. The feature was first spotted in October by XDA Developers.

WABetaInfo reported that the Communities feature appeared to offer admins more power over Groups, including the ability to create smaller groups within Groups, similar to how channels work beneath an umbrella community on Discord.

The WABetaInfo report suggests Group admins might be able to invite new users using a Community Invite Link and message other members. While there is still no clarity about how the chats might look, WABetaInfo said it appeared to have end-to-end encryption.

WhatsApp also seems to have incorporated subtle design to help distinguish the Communities chats from regular Group chats. Community icons will be square with rounded edges — a feature the Meta-owned platform mistakenly enabled, before quickly disabling it, in October. There is also no word on when WhatsApp will officially roll out the Communities feature.

The Communities feature is being seen as WhatsApp’s attempt to close the gap with rival messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram.

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy caused uproar among users earlier this year. There were question marks over the data the messaging app would share with parent company Facebook, now rebranded as Meta. This sparked a mass exodus of users to the likes of Signal and Telegram. Telegram gained a staggering 70 million users last month when Meta’s suite of apps went down.

Facebook, which itself has been contending with privacy-related criticism over the past three years, recently announced that it would no longer use its patented facial recognition software to identify faces from photographs and videos. The facial recognition technology had led to concern over ethics, with activists raising questions over racial bias, accuracy, and privacy.

A US government study in 2019 suggested that facial recognition algorithms were less accurate at identifying Asian and African-American faces.

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