WhatsApp Channels now available globally: A South African guide on who and what to follow

WhatsApp logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. File picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

WhatsApp logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. File picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Published Sep 21, 2023


WhatsApp has officially unveiled its channel feature worldwide, causing a stir in South Africa and across the globe.

Mark Zuckerberg, using his official Meta broadcast channel on Instagram, confirmed the global launch of WhatsApp Channels, a move that extends this feature to users who have updated to the latest versions of WhatsApp for iOS, Android, and Desktop.

While the introduction of WhatsApp Channels was met with much excitement, it has also left many users in South Africa confused about their purpose and functionality.

Exploring WhatsApp Channels: What and who to follow

For those who have embraced the latest update, here are some suggestions on who and what to follow:

1. News: If you run out of topics to talk about at this weekend’s braai, it would be useful to know what’s going on in the country and world. Stay informed with the latest news and updates by following various news sites or subscribing to IOL’s WhatsApp channel.

2. Cooking and Recipes: Food enthusiasts can explore channels like NYT Cooking for delectable recipes. One-pot pasta dish for dinner, anyone?

3. Celebrities and Entertainment: South Africans can now follow their favourite local and international celebrities, as well as public figures, on WhatsApp Channels. Whether you're seeking entertainment news from your beloved football club or streaming service, these channels allow you to stay up-to-date with the latest happenings.

Understanding WhatsApp Channels

WhatsApp Channels essentially provide users with the ability to follow their favourite individuals and organisations, receiving regular updates, insights, and news directly from them. These channels are conveniently accessible within the "Updates" tab, previously known as "Status".

Users can explore recommended channels or browse a list of verified options, making it somewhat reminiscent of platforms like Instagram or Twitter. It was due to this that many scratched their heads.

One notable feature of WhatsApp Channels is their commitment to user privacy.

Your phone number remains concealed from other followers, ensuring a level of anonymity. However, channel administrators can see your follow status if they are in your contacts list.

Rollout and Availability

While WhatsApp Channels are already accessible to some users, the global rollout will continue over the next few weeks, ensuring broader access. To access this feature, users must update their WhatsApp to the latest version, available on the Google Play Store, TestFlight, and App Store.

The WhatsApp Channels feature may seem unfamiliar, but it offers an excellent way to stay informed and entertained, catering to your unique interests, whether it's celebrity updates or global humanitarian efforts led by organisations like Unicef.