Until now in order to be on a WhatsApp group you had to be invited or sent a link to the group. Your phone number was also visible to anyone in the group.
WhatsApp has now introduced a new feature called “Channels” to allow users to search for a Channel on any topic available, and join that Channel without being invited. Channels can share information, images, and video, completely unmoderated and uncensored.
What was once an app that had some limitations to which group you could follow, WhatsApp has become a place to search for any content, even objectionable, indecent content, and sign up for updates anonymously – just like much of the internet. This is like your innocent gold fish transforming into a Shark overnight!
At the moment Channels are only available in a handful of countries: Singapore, Colombia, Ukraine, Chile, Malaysia, Egypt, Peru, Kenya, and Morocco It’s only a matter of time until it comes to the US, and by that time it will have a large array of content that will only increase exponentially.
If you use WhatsApp or are considering installing it, it’s important to be aware of this huge change to the platform and take responsible steps to address it. At the moment, unfortunately, there is no reliable way to filter the app.
[UPDATE: As of mid September 2023 it is now in the US. Ever since it was released in the US TAG has been working closely with the filter companies to find a solution. At the moment there are some partially successful fixes for Android devices, but less so with iPhones.]
From Text Triumphs, a Bi-Weekly TAG Baltimore Column in Baltimore Jewish Home