WhatsApp Formally Rolls Out its New Discussion Group Feature, "Communities"

WhatsApp Formally Rolls Out its New Discussion Group Feature, "Communities"

WhatsApp is formally launching Communities, a new feature that offers larger, more structured discussion groups. Communities, which can support groups of up to 1024 users and offer end-to-end encryption, are designed to help organizations, clubs, schools, and other private groups better communicate and stay organized. Communities also bring several new features to the instant messaging platform, including admin controls, support for sub-groups and announcement groups, 32-person voice and video calls, larger file sharing, emoji reactions, and polls.

Some of the Community features, such as emoji reactions, large file sharing (up to 2GB), and indeed the possibility for administrators to delete messages, had already made their way to the WhatsApp platform before today’s launch. Polls, 32-person video calls, and larger group sizes will now be supported on WhatsApp outside of Communities, according to the company.

Unlike Facebook Groups, WhatsApp is phone-number-based, but the phone numbers will be hidden from the rest of the Community and only visible to admins and others in the same sub-groups.

This is intended to strike a balance between users’ desire for privacy and the need for fellow group members to be able to contact you.


In addition, unlike Facebook Groups which can be discoverable on the platform, WhatsApp Communities are hidden. There will not be a search and discovery feature available — you have to be invited to join.

What You Should Know About the New WhatsApp Communities

Admins of existing group chats will be able to transition their groups to Communities if they prefer, or they can re-create their groups as Communities from the ground up. Admins can also add members to groups or send out invite links that allow others to become Community members.

Communities are organized around a central announcement group that broadcasts all of the most important messages. Members, however, can only chat in small sub-groups that the admin has approved. This can prevent members from being inundated with messages about group happenings and events to which they are unrelated.

The launch of Communities could challenge other apps that have grown popular for private and large group communications, including Telegram and Signal, as well as standard messaging platforms like iMessage, and apps aimed at organizations or schools like GroupMe, Band, TalkingPoints, Remind, and others.

Announcing the new feature, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta  stressed that the encryption aspects of the Communities feature, saying that the company is “aiming to raise the bar for how organizations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else.”

“The alternatives available today require trusting apps or software companies with a copy of their messages – and we think they deserve the higher level of security provided by end-to-end encryption,” he said.


To gather early feedback, communities have been tested with over 50 organizations in 15 countries. WhatsApp confirmed in August that the feature had been rolled out to a small number of testers but did not provide a launch date.

Today, the feature will begin to roll out to the larger WhatsApp user base, eventually reaching all users worldwide on both Android and iOS.