WhatsApp has added perhaps its most annoying feature ever.
The app will now let people tag other users within conversations. And the notifications that come from those tags will come even if a chat has been muted – making it impossible to ignore.
The feature is apparently intended as a way of allowing people to keep up with big group chats, and not to have to read or respond to every message but only to the relevant ones. The company has been looking to build up group chats – including changing the maximum group size from 100 to 256 people – and so the move appears to be a way of dealing with that.
It has added other features like replies to specific messages, apparently as a way of dealing with the same issue.
WhatsApp has long offered the opportunity to mute an annoying group chat, allowing people to turn off notifications from them for a specific amount of time or indefinitely. But the new feature gets around that, allowing people to be involved in chats that they don’t want to be, against their will.
The only way to turn off the feature appears to be either to leave the group entirely or to turn off notifications from the app.
To tag someone, all a user has to do is to write the @ symbol and then start typing their name. Like on Facebook, as soon as someone starts doing that the app will start looking for people – a pop-up will appear and let people choose from a list of names.
Multiple people can be tagged and those people don’t have to be in a users’ address book, but must be in a chat.
The move might also be part of WhatsApp’s attempt to move itself into people’s offices, as well as for organising their home lives. The feature is already present in apps like Slack, and WhatsApp has added a range of other work-focused features like document sharing recently.