Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has debuted a new feature for groups to create one-way broadcast communication streams: With the new feature, the owners of a group can make it such that they are the only ones capable of sending messages — essentially handing them a massive megaphone for shouting at people.
“Today, we’re launching a new group setting where only admins are able to send messages to a group,” WhatsApp noted in a blog post on Friday. “One way people use groups is to receive important announcements and information, including parents and teachers at schools, community centers, and non-profit organizations.” WhatsApp said that it decided to roll out this feature to help group admins better streamline their communications.
The messaging service has introduced a number of new features over the past few months including group descriptions, a catch-up feature that’s an out for folks who are constantly getting re-added to groups they’ve previously tried to leave.
In order to turn on this newest feature, you’ll need to open up Group Info, tap on Group Settings, then Send Messages, and select “Only Admins.” The feature will be rolling out to all WhatsApp users across the globe.
What’s striking is the tool’s similarity to a feature of Telegram, the popular messaging app that was recently banned in Russia. But it’s by no means the first time a Facebook-owned platform has drawn inspiration from a competitive service. Instagram has been copying Snapchat features for years — and as it turns out, beating Snapchat at its own game. Nearly a year ago, Instagram Stories overtook Snapchat in terms of daily users, as well as active users.
As such, it comes as little surprise that WhatsApp is looking increasingly similar to Telegram, especially with regard to this newest feature. While group admins could always broadcast information to a set of users, this is the first time that they can ensure that there isn’t any tangential conversation going on, and that a single person controls the entire stream. As present, WhatsApp boasts over 1.5 billion active users. Comparatively, Telegram only recently reached 200 million active users … close, but no cigar.