WhatsApp has launched the first stage of its new Communities roll out, with Reactions now available in group chats, and users now able to send files within WhatsApp up to 2GB in size at a time, up from its previous 100MB limit.
WhatsApp announced its new Communities initiative last month, which, in addition to these elements, will also include new admin tools, sub-groups, 32-person audio chats, and more.
But that’s apparently not all – in addition to these already announced updates, WhatsApp is also now gradually rolling out the ability to add up to 512 people to a group chat.
That’s a significant expansion – users can currently add up to 256 people to a WhatsApp group chat, which will now be doubled, which could facilitate a range of new usage and communication options.
Though it could also open WhatsApp up to more activity by criminal groups, or those looking to spread misinformation or other harmful content via its encrypted discussion chains.
Back in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, WhatsApp implemented new restrictions on message forwarding in the app, in order to combat the rise of misinformation campaigns flowing through chat threads. That resulted in a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages, and with over 2 billion WhatsApp users worldwide, that’s a potentially significant impact on the activity of ill-intentioned groups.
Could doubling the size of WhatsApp groups be a step in the wrong direction on this front?
Concerns aside, the expansion could also open up new opportunities for marketers to create brand-affiliated groups in WhatsApp, where they could provide exclusive offers and sneak peaks to their most loyal, engaged customers. I mean, you can already do this now, with up to 256 of your top customers, but by opening that up to even more people, that could make it a more valuable proposition too.
It’s not available to all users as yet, but if you were looking to make a super-massive WhatsApp group, that option is coming, which could open up new opportunities.