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WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta Platforms, is exploring a new tool called Communities to organize groups in broader structures that employers or schools might use.

Will Cathcart, WhatsApp’s CEO, said the function would link together groupings of up to 256 individuals under larger banners where admins can issue notifications to tens of thousands of people.

Speaking to Reuters, Cathcart said that the new feature is geared towards the groups you’re already a part of in your life and are conducting private communication with, mentioning Salesforce-owned Slack or Microsoft Teams as examples.

The feature is free

He added there are no plans to charge for the new function, which is now being beta tested with a small number of worldwide communities, but that “premium features to enterprise” might be offered in the future.

The messaging service, which has roughly 2 billion users and is end-to-end encrypted, said the Communities feature would be secured as well.

Bulk texting, the dissemination of disinformation, and hate speech have all been problems WhatsApp is dealing with. According to Cathcart, users will not be able to search for other Communities on WhatsApp.

Protection measures

The CEO also said that the new feature would be protected by anti-abuse mechanisms and precautions such as forwarding limitations.

Before the debut of Communities, WhatsApp stated that it would make modifications to its Groups function. It said that group managers would be able to delete inappropriate remarks from everyone’s chat, start voice calls for up to 32 people, share up to 2 gigabytes of files, and use emoji replies.

Communities will be pushed out over the next few months, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Meta will develop community messaging services for the corporation’s other platforms (Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook) for the same purpose it is intended to serve on WhatsApp.