About building private, safe, and secure communities on WhatsApp
We've build communities on WhatsApp for close-knit groups that need more tools to organize and manage their conversations. These kinds of groups typically have a connection where people know one another and are organized around a common place or interest.
Parents, schools, local clubs, and small workplaces now rely on WhatsApp as their primary way of keeping people up-to-date. These groups need private ways of communicating that are distinct from social media, but provide more tools to facilitate real-time conversations than e-mail or broadcast only channels.
At the center of every community on WhatsApp is a description and menu of groups that people can choose to join. Giving structure and organization to conversations among larger and more complex groups allows people to focus on what matters to them. We’re building updates to provide private, safe, and secure ways for these groups to communicate on WhatsApp using the following principles as our guide.
Admins are responsible for creating and managing communities on WhatsApp. They can choose which groups become part of their community by forming new groups or by linking pre-existing groups. Community admins can also unlink groups from the community and remove individual members from the community entirely. Group admins will be able to delete inappropriate or abusive chats or media for all members of a group. We’ll provide admins with resources on how best to use these new features.
Giving users more control over their chats
In addition to providing tools for admins, users can control their interactions within communities. Our existing settings allow users to decide who can add them to a group – and these settings will also apply to communities. Users can also easily report abuse, block accounts, and leave communities they no longer want to be a part of. We’ve also added the ability to silently leave a group without notifying group members of the exit.
Limits on size, discoverability, and forwarding
While other apps provide group chats without limits, WhatsApp is focusing our product development on meeting the needs of organizations and other groups where many people know one another already. Unlike social media and other messaging services, WhatsApp will not support the ability to search for or discover new communities on our service.
To limit noise and overload, only community admins can send announcements to all Community members. We’ll initially support community announcements for several thousands of users. We plan additional increases to group sizes as we bring more controls to admins and users. We continue to limit forwarding on WhatsApp to keep conversations private. With the introduction of communities, messages that have already been forwarded will only be able to be forwarded to one group at a time. We believe this will reduce the spread of potentially harmful misinformation in community groups.
We continue to limit forwarding on WhatsApp to keep conversations private. With the introduction of communities, messages that have already been forwarded will only be able to be forwarded to one group at a time. We believe this will reduce the spread of potentially harmful misinformation in community groups.
End-to-end encryption and phone number privacy
Given the private nature for chats within communities, WhatsApp will continue to protect messages with end-to-end encryption so that only the members of the respective groups can see them, and no one else. This security technology protects sensitive conversations among organizations, workplaces, and personal groups.
To protect user privacy, your phone number is hidden from the community. Only community admins and your contacts in the group can see your phone number. This prevents unwanted contact and reduces the risk of scraping people’s phone numbers.
Taking action against abusive communities
These measures and controls are designed to empower community admins to address problems within their groups. We continue to encourage users to report problematic communities and messages to us directly.
Whenever we become aware of communities engaging in abuse such as distributing child sexual abuse material or coordinating violence or human trafficking. WhatsApp will ban individual community members or admins, disband a community, or ban all members of a community. We rely on all available unencrypted information including the community name, description, and user reports to take appropriate action.
WhatsApp will continue to build support for communities in the months and years to come. As always, we continue to listen closely to feedback from users about how we can help people connect privately, safely, and securely.