Why WhatsApp Private Newsletters Might Be Totally Genius

It’s not like anyone uses email anymore, right?

  • WhatsApp is testing a new one-to-many newsletter feature.
  • This combines with the existing communities feature to create mini social-media groups. 
  • Unlike email, these messages are private and secure—but also stuck in a proprietary silo.
Messaging app icons displayed on the screen of a smartphone.

Adem AY / Unsplash

WhatsApp's working on a new private newsletter feature that could help people have more meaningful conversations on the app.

If you've ever used WhatsApp, you'll know just how far behind is Apple's iMessage service. WhatsApp, popular in Europe and mostly unused in the US, is as much a publishing service and commerce platform as a private messaging app, which is why a new private newsletter feature, currently in testing, could be huge. Or at least, it could be very, very useful. 

"WhatsApp private newsletters are a great way to communicate with a small group of people, as the conversations are only visible to those members of the group who are invited. This is better than letting everyone see your conversations, as it allows for more targeted, personalized conversations," Andrew Tsionas, a development and marketing expert and co-founder of Kaizenzo, told Lifewire via email. 

Platform Game

The Newsletters feature seems related to an existing WhatsApp feature, Communities. These let you gather existing group conversations together. Think of this as Slack channels in that you may have an announcement group, a chat group, and so on, and these can be collected into a Community. 

You might use these for kids' sports groups, with an announcements thread, one for the parent to chat, one for the kids to arrange things, one for ride-sharing to away games, etc. Or it could be used for work, family, or a group of neighbors in an apartment building: you get the idea. 

Newsletters build on this by letting you send long-form text documents to people in a group. To reuse our examples above, that could be the year's upcoming sports fixtures, some apartment-related paperwork, or whatever. 

Closeup on someone's hands as they're typing on a smart phone.

Alicia Christin Gerald / Unsplash

Where I live, there's a Telegram group for a local dojo, which is broadcast-only (members of the public can sign up via a QR code on the dojo's door but cannot send messages to the group). Timetable changes come in as highlighted screenshots. Newsletters would be way better and presumably harder to lose. 

Senders of WhatsApp Newsletters will be able to choose who receives them, and other users will be able to decide whether or not they receive them, avoiding possible friendly spam problems. 


No, there’s nothing here that couldn’t be done via email, but that’s beside the point, because while email isn’t going anywhere, neither is it the first choice for many people, especially if you have a bankrupt, overflowing inbox. 

And email is chronically insecure. That might not matter for sending details of the season’s sports games out to parents, but it does matter if you want folks to read private or sensitive material, be that financial, or just highly personal. 

Two people having a meaningful conversation over coffee.

Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

Privacy is also essential for open, nuanced conversation. If you are conversing in a public forum like Twitter, then any of your tweets can be taken out of context. You cannot explore concepts with similarly open-minded folks without risking that those conversations will spread to places that do not understand their context. 

This is called 'context collapse,' and may be the biggest barrier to meaningful discourse online. However, we already have one workaround. Our messaging groups are assembled from people we already know, or trusted invitees who other people know. They are groups of friends, rather than drive-by random people on Twitter. 

This is what makes messaging services like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Signal real social networks. These are the places you can share personal information, or test partially-formed ideas without the threat of knee-jerk cancellation. 

These messaging platforms have another feature that is essential to private sharing: they are encrypted, so nobody but the group members can access messages. Meta (WhatsApps’s owner) or Telegram can see who you are talking to, when you do it, and where you are at the time, but they cannot see into the messages themselves. 

WhatsApp private newsletters are a great way to communicate with a small group of people...

However, unlike email, all WhatsApp data lives in a silo. Messages, newsletters, or anything; it’s all inside WhatsApp, and you have to sign up for an account to access it. With email, you can use any email account, and you can easily get messages and other information out of your email app and into any other place you like. 

But in the end, it’s all down to convenience.

"Many people already use WhatsApp as their primary messaging platform, so it can be more seamless to receive newsletters through the same app rather than having to check multiple email accounts,” Shahnawaz Sadique, a tech writer and the senior digital marketing manager for IBC24, told Lifewire via email.

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