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WhatsApp Officially Launches New, 8-Person Group Video Chat Option

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After it was previewed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg late last week, WhatsApp has now officially announced the launch of its new, 8-person, encrypted video chat option, which doubles the capacity of WhatsApp group video calls.

WhatsApp Video Calls

As explained by WhatsApp:

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many of us are isolated from friends and family, and as a result, we’ve seen that people are turning to voice and video calling on WhatsApp more than ever before. Group calling has been particularly useful and our users have asked to connect with more people at once. Starting today, we’re doubling the number of participants you can have on a WhatsApp video or voice call from 4 to 8 people at a time.”

WhatsApp says that, like messages, all of its video calls are protected with end-to-end encryption. It’s also sought to build its expansion of group video calling with mobile data limitations in mind. Many WhatsApp users are in developing regions, where access to data is not as readily available, so it’s been working to minimize the system’s demands in order to ensure that as many people as possible will be able to utilize the feature to connect with family and friends face-to-face, in a virtual sense.

In addition to this, WhatsApp also notes that its group video calls are also available via Facebook’s Portal home speaker device

“We know people may want different ways to connect while they’re at home, which is why WhatsApp is also available on Portal – which many users have told us has been a great way to share their living room with family during quarantine.”

Sales of Facebook’s Portal device have grown by more than 10x during COVID-19 lockdowns, with Facebook now struggling to keep up with demand. That could have significant impacts and implications in the longer term, but right now, it’s interesting to note the various integrations and options being rolled out for Facebook’s in-home connection product.

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Facebook says that, overall, group video chat options have seen a 10x increase in usage during COVID-19, so it makes sense for Facebook to add more tools, like expanded WhatsApp group chats, to meet that demand. The interesting thing, however, will be what that means for longer-term usage shifts.

Will group video calling become a new norm? Will live-streaming see a sustained resurgence? 

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It seems, right now, like these options are having a moment, and more people are learning about the connective benefits of such, which could accelerate a broader digital shift.

From a business perspective, that’s worth considering – how can you utilize such tools to facilitate better connection with your audience, if you assume that people are now going to look to connect via video options like this more often in future?

It’s an interesting question, with a range of possibilities.

To use WhatsApp’s new 8-person group video calls, every participant within the video call needs to update to the latest version of WhatsApp.

Socialmediatoday.com

SOCIAL

New Screenshots Highlight How Snapchat’s Coming ‘Family Center’ Will Work

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New Screenshots Highlight How Snapchat's Coming 'Family Center' Will Work

Snapchat’s parental control options look close to launch, with new screenshots based on back-end code showing how Snap’s coming ‘Family Center’ will look in the app.

As you can see in these images, shared by app intelligence company Watchful (via TechCrunch), the Family Center will enable parents to see who their child is engaging with in the app, along with who they’ve added, who they’re following, etc.

That could provide a new level of assurance for parents – though it could also be problematic for Snap, which has become a key resource for more private, intimate connection, with its anti-public posting ethos, and disappearing messages, helping to cement its place as an alternative to other social apps.

That’s really how Snap has embedded its niche. While other apps are about broadcasting your life to the wider world, Snap is about connecting with a small group of friends, where you can share your more private, secret thoughts, without concern of them living on forever, and coming back to bite you at a later stage.

That also, of course, means that more questionable, dangerous communications are happening in the app. Various reports have investigated how Snap is used for sending lewd messages, and arranging hook-ups, while drug dealers reportedly now use Snap to organize meet-ups and sales.

Which, of course, is why parents will be keen to get more insight into such, but I can’t imagine Snap users will be so welcoming of an intrusive tool in this respect.

But if parents know that it exists, they may have to, and that could be problematic for Snap. Teen users will need to accept their parents’ invitation to enable Family Center monitoring, but you can see how this could become an issue for many younger users in the app.

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Still, the protective benefits may well be worth it, with random hook-ups and other engagements posing significant risks. And with kids as young as 13 able to create a Snapchat account, there are many vulnerable youngsters engaging in the app.

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But it could reduce Snap’s appeal, as more parents become aware of the tool.

Snapchat hasn’t provided any further insight into the new Family Center, or when it will be released, but it looks close to launch based on these images.  

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