WhatsApp is a widely used personal messenger application owned by Meta. WhatsApp allows people to form chats with one or more people. WhatsApp chats can grow to include large numbers of participants, effectively becoming semi-public group discussions. In some cases, these discussions can be the focus of collective action with civic impact.
WhatsApp is also evolving into the gaps left by other platforms, adding a new "channel" feature that will be friendly for brands and organizations. The WhatsApp business model seems to be in robust shape with a promising future.
In contrast with other forms of social media platforms, WhatsApp chats are more under the control of their authors and members, since people can be selectively invited in and removed by the chat owner. WhatsApp chats may be less discoverable than discussions on other social media platforms that have global search features, but this absence may be a feature as much as a bug, providing a social boundary that is crossed only through invitations from existing members.
As conflict in public social media spaces becomes more common, participation becomes less attractive and more socially bounded spaces can be more inviting and personal. Many users report that they participate in many WhatsApp chats and that some of these chats are many years old, involve many people, and have many messages.
NodeXL can now import and analyze the files that WhatsApp exports that contain all the messages in a chat. Version .522 of NodeXL Pro now has an importer that turns WhatsApp chats into social media networks.
Creating these files is a simple process. From any WhatsApp group chat...