Meta’s WhatsApp has decided not to launch WA Channels in Russia on the grounds that it may be blocked.
Speaking to The Moscow Times, a representative of Meta said that it would not be available to users inside Russia in the near future. Both the regulator Roskomnadzor and Russian parliament (State Duma) have threatened to block WhatsApp if it began to expand its functionality to the mass dissemination of information.
Meta launched its WA Channels feature in Colombia and Singapore in June and rolled it out to seven more countries the following month. It then made it available in over 150 countries on September 13.
WA Channels is described as a “simple, reliable, and private way to receive important updates from people and organizations, right within WhatsApp”.
WhatsApp says it is “aspiring to build the most private broadcast service available”.
Although Meta products have been blocked in Russia since March 2022, the authorities have allowed WhatsApp to operate until now on the grounds that it is a means of communication rather than a source of information.