The Facebook-owned app, WhatsApp rolled out the update over the weekend in the hope of making the group messaging feature more functional for admins of large groups, who want to make sure that important announcements are not lost in general chatter.
The new setting will allow group chats to be set up so that only approved admins are able to send messages to the group, which should help prevent important information from being lost in a hail of messages from group members.
Once iOS and Android users update to the latest version, they’ll be able to set up groups where only one member has the power to talk to members — giving them a captive audience.
“We’re launching a new group setting where only admins are able to send messages to a group,” WhatsApp said in a blog post announcing the new group setting for admins.
“One way people use groups is to receive important announcements and information, including parents and teachers at schools, community centres, and non-profit organisations. We’ve introduced this new setting so admins can have better tools for these use cases.”
With the latest update installed, users can enable this setting by opening “Group Info,” tapping Group Settings, then Send Messages and selecting “Only Admins.”
By selecting ‘only admins‘, regular members of the group will no longer be able to contribute but will still be able to receive new messages and notifications.
In addition to PTA announcements, this feature could increase WhatsApp’s already growing standing as a news delivery platform. In June, a Reuters Institute study found that people were turning to WhatsApp and other one-to-one or group messaging platforms for news, and away from Facebook. Particularly in some countries with authoritarian regimes, people who were concerned with “the safety of posting political messages” were increasingly using WhatsApp. The group chat admin feature could help make WhatsApp a system for group alerts.
The latest update setting is being rolled out globally and WhatsApp users can enjoy it with the latest supported versions of the app. This could be useful for people and groups that use WhatsApp as a way to send mass updates, and to cut down on noise and clutters.