WhatsApp Communities: taking on Facebook Groups, Discord, and NFT Twitter

Back in 2014, long before Facebook became Meta, they purchased WhatsApp for a record-breaking $19 Billion USD. Today, the company announced the rollout of WhatsApp Communities, a feature that will undoubtedly compete with Facebook Groups.

The latest move from Meta illustrates what seems to be the company’s 3- pronged strategy:

  • If you can’t beat them, buy them (Instagram)
  • If you can’t buy them, copy them (TikTok)
  • If you already bought them, copy yourself (WhatsApp)

At this point, Facebook is an advertising business trying to future-proof their footprint by way of the Metaverse. While Facebook Groups & Messenger are great for personal contacts, WhatsApp plans to extend those core concepts to a more secure and private environment:

“Communities are inherently private, which is why we will continue to protect messages with end-to-end encryption. This security technology has truly never been more necessary to protect people’s privacy and safety. Close knit groups — schools, members of a religious congregation, even businesses — very much want and need to be able to have secure and private conversations without WhatsApp monitoring their every word.”

The vast majority of users may see this as a natural progression of the product – and it is – but there are many more layers of competition lurking below the surface. In fact, tech juggernauts like Apple, Samsung, and Google have employed the same strategy for decades now: make two of everything.

Given that Meta demands a seat at the Metaverse table, how do you imagine they feel about the social side of Crypto? About the majority of NFT Projects building their communities on Discord while watching Twitter serve as the defacto industry water cooler?

Not good, I imagine.

Meta needs to edge their way further into social-crypto. Eventually, they’ll make moves to try and corner the market. Make no mistake- it may seem like an innocent, natural, and somewhat boring progression, but WhatsApp Communities are part of that bigger plan.

It’s just a hop, skip, and jump to the inevitable Metaverse Communities on the Horizon (pun intended).

You can read Mark Zuckerberg’s full statement here:

Today we’re starting to test a major evolution of WhatsApp that we’ve been working on: WhatsApp Communities.

It’s been clear for a while that the way we communicate online is changing. Most of us use social networks and feeds to discover interesting content and stay updated. But for a deeper level of interaction, messaging has become the center of our digital lives. It’s more intimate and private, and with encryption it’s more secure too.

Our messaging services are built around one-to-one text messaging — and that will stay the core of what we do. But we’ve also been working on building out the next generation of private messaging. With a focus on privacy, safety and security, we’ve added video chats, voice messages, stories, commerce, payments and more to WhatsApp and Messenger. With today’s launch, we’re taking this further and enabling people to not only communicate with close friends and contacts, but also with all of the different communities in your life.

This might be a school community with chats where important announcements for parents are shared and discussed, or a work community with chats to discuss different things with colleagues, or a neighborhood community to talk about what’s happening on your street or in your building. A lot of people tell us they want to use WhatsApp for this since it’s the quickest way to stay in touch with people, but until now the product hasn’t been built in a way that makes this easy.

We built WhatsApp Communities to make it much easier to organize all your group chats and find information. You’ll be able to bring different group together into one community — for example, in addition to individual groups for different classes, you might have one overall community for parents at a school with a central place for announcements and tools for admins. We’re also adding new features to groups on WhatsApp, including reactions, large file sharing, and bigger group calls. And because this is WhatsApp, end-to-end encryption and safety features will be built in from the start.

We’re going to start rolling this out slowly, but I expect this to be an important evolution for WhatsApp and online communication overall. In the same way that social feeds took the basic technology behind the internet and made it so anyone could find people and content online, I think community messaging will take the basic protocols behind one-to-one messaging and extend them so you can communicate more easily with groups of people to get things done together. We’ll be building community messaging features for Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram as well. I’m excited to see how this progresses as we start testing WhatsApp Communities today and roll it out over the coming months.