A big step up from WhatsApp’s previous group limit of 256 users, Communities can host over 1,024 participants. To keep things manageable, each can create admin-approved subsects where more focused conversations may unfold. For example, members of a company-wide Community can join a smaller group for a project they’re involved in, while a TV fan collective could have one to discuss the latest spoilers. Video calls for up to 32 people are also available.
Unlike other similar platforms like Facebook Groups or Twitter Circles, where users can hold more than one account, WhatsApp ties members to their phone numbers. This makes maintaining multiple identities much more laborious, and it favours connections among those who already know each other, often in real life. WhatsApp Communities counts entirely upon pre-established connections – the groups are not searchable through public discovery. Instead, people need to be invited via a direct link shared by existing participants.
With two billion global users, WhatsApp’s current market position could make it a serious competitor to popular community chat apps like Telegram and Discord (Statista, 2022). By entering the business of more privately interactive social platforms, Meta will be hoping to balance out consumer backlash against its pivot into artificial-intelligence-filtered content discovery on its other services, like Instagram, where the company is introducing more suggested content from creators people don't follow, to the vocal displeasure of its user base.