WhatsApp’s new ‘tagging’ feature lets you tag people on group messages

The Facebook-owned WhatsApp app provides people around the world with fast and secure messaging. Soon it will make sure those messages aren’t easily ignored, a feature likely to be an annoyance to some.

Users will be able to tag people in group chats by preceding other users’ names with the @ symbol. Once done, the people they tag will start receiving notifications for chats – even if they had already opted out of the chat. The update will be rolled out over the next coming weeks on Android and IOS devices while desktop users will get more control over what WhatsApp notifications they receive.

WhatsApp lets people use the app to text and call friends and family. It uses their phone’s internet connection so that they avoid SMS fees and don’t use their phone plans’ talk minutes. They can share messages, videos and photos with up to 256 people at once.

How it works, a user:

  • Goes into a group chat and presses in a box as if they want to write a message.
  • Type the “@” symbol, which will make a list of group members pop up.
  • Click on the name of members that they want to tag.
  • Press “send” to have a notification sent to tagged members.

You can tag more than one contact in a single message. Even if they have that group muted, they will receive a notification. Plus, if the person isn’t one of your contacts but is in the same group, you may be tagged.

This follows a previous update that increased the maximum group size from 100 to 256 participants. The app had also let users opt to quote messages so people knew what message they were replying to.

Not everyone’s pleased about the update as many expressed their displeasure on Twitter.

“#WhatsApp just got its most annoying update ever,” one user stated.

The update comes after a recent announcement that WhatsApp, purchased by Facebook in 2014, will share users’ phone numbers with Facebook.

“By connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them,” a post on WhatsApp’s blog read.

WhatsApp will let users opt out of whether they want to let Facebook have access to their information.

There is some speculation that the latest feature of tagging people in group posts is part of a bigger plan to monetize WhatsApp.

How it’s welcomed will largely depend on how excited or anxious people are to get those group conversations. If it’s a message you’re happy to receive, then it will be great that someone made sure you saw it. If it’s a conversation you’d rather forget – and keep muted – good luck with that.

The question in the future will be whether people will enjoy the updated WhatsApp even more, or if they decided there are just enough reasons to escape.

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