Newsletters, even though many have discarded their importance these days, continue to still be a popular means of dissemination critical information. They have actually increased in popularity ever since the onset of platforms such as Substack, wherein Journalists are increasingly creating their independent news dissemination tools and reaching out to a much wider audience.
Having said that, it is still difficult to keep track of these newsletters. And Whatsapp, the most popular and used IM app on the planet, seems to be heading that way. In a new beta release noticed first by WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is apparantly working on a private newsletter tool. The feature seems to be part of WhatsApp’s ongoing efforts to expand beyond personal messaging and into more professional use cases.
At this moment, the private newsletter tool is under development, which hints that it might arrive to users in a future publicly available update. Currently, it is not ready to be released to beta testers, the website said. It added that WhatsApp is currently rolling out a new update through the Google Play Beta Program, bringing the version up to 184.108.40.206. WhatsApp declined to comment on the matter.
The tool, though not sure if it is actually being called ‘Newsletter’, is a one-to-many tool for broadcasting information and they look like a new way to receive updates from people and groups like local officials, sports teams, or other organizations. More importantly, this new feature may allow users to finally choose who they want to hear from and follow broadcasters of their choice right within WhatsApp.
Based on information available from the beta version, users will be able to control who they follow, and nobody else will be able to see who they follow, regardless of whether they’re in their contacts list or not. In addition, the Newsletter is marked as a private tool because people that will create and join a Newsletter are in a private space as their phone numbers and personal information are always hidden by default. Additionally, this new feature does not have any ads at the moment. There is also no sign of algorithmic recommendations like those on other Meta platforms, or social graphs pushing content to users that they didn’t choose to see. At the moment, the content is appearing like WhatsApp chats, in a chronological order without any magic priority.
The move into newsletters is part of a broader trend among social media companies to expand beyond their core features and into new areas. Meta, the social media company that owns WhatsApp (along with Instagram and Facebook), has been particularly active in this regard, launching a range of new products and services, such as Facebook Workplace, Facebook Dating, and Instagram Reels. According to WaBetaInfo, WhatsApp’s newsletter tool will be a separate and optional section available within the Status tab, and this will not affect the end-to-end encryption (E2EE) of private messaging.
If WhatsApp follows through and introduces the private newsletter tool, then it could be useful for a variety of purposes. These could include the sharing of personal news and updates, distribution of exclusive content, or even communicating with a select group of friends or family members. It could also be used by small businesses or freelancers to communicate with clients or customers in a more personal and direct way. Organisations and media brands could use it, well like a newsletter, to send out periodic updates to users who sign up for it.
Furthermore, if the development is successful, then WhatsApp can seamlessly leverage its healthy user base of 2 billion daily active users to rank among to top newsletter players in the sector – perhaps even the biggest – and perhaps even open up a new source of revenue. And with WhatsApp reinvigorating the popularity of newsletters, the newsletter industry is likely to grow as well.