WhatsApp has been all over the place with updates that not only bring new features that users have been asking for for ages but also that improve the overall experience of the messaging app’s over 1.5 billion users.
Among the latest features are those aimed at bringing and order and sanity to one of WhatsApp’s most used features: group messaging. Starting recently, WhatsApp group admins can no longer be kicked out of the groups they started and they can also no longer bully people who opt to leave such groups by constantly adding them back whenever they exit the said groups.
And now, things are about to get even more serious. Better or worse, depending on which side of the divide you ever find yourself in.
In an update that should be rolling out to all Android users of the popular messaging app soon as it is currently under testing, WhatsApp group admins will be able to restrict group activity by blocking all users from posting anything in the group. Messages, photos, videos, GIFs, voice notes. Everything. When the feature, dubbed “Send Messages” is turned on by a group admin, only admins can be able to post in the group, creating a one-to-many broadcast channel instead of the multi-conversational arrangement that WhatsApp groups have been known for.
All that WhatsApp group admins need to do is to head over to the Group Info section then Group Settings then look for Send Messages. Clicking on Send Messages will result in two options being shown: Only Admins and All Participants. The latter is the default option while toggling on the former will result in group members losing the ability to share in the group. Like it has been notoriously doing every time you take advantage of the ability to delete a message and when you “left” a group, WhatsApp will be fair enough to notify all the group members of their change of fortunes.
While I definitely see a need for such (more so in groups that have been invaded by spammers and those who believe everyone in the group is interested in reading their latest blog post), it’s likely to heighten the levels of dictatorship already existent in certain WhatsApp groups. Vocal members may just wake up tomorrow and find themselves unable to post in the groups they belong to. In case the World Cup gets boring at any point going forward, at least there will be better scenes to look out for online and offline as the effects of this feature addition boil over.
Send Messages is available in version 2.18.201 of WhatsApp which is already seeding through the Play Store for those who are enrolled in WhatsApp’s beta programme. However, a server-side switch is necessary for it to show up immediately. Since the rollout appears to be slow, that may take time. The easiest way is to simply delete and install WhatsApp afresh as every fresh installation usually fetches the latest feature update switches while setting up for first time use. The feature is also expected to hit the stable version of the app (2.18.191) any time now.