WhatsApp, owned by Meta, is set to introduce a new feature called ‘Third Party Chats’ to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) regulations. This move aims to facilitate cross-platform messaging, allowing users on different messaging platforms to send messages to WhatsApp users. The feature will be opt-in, ensuring users have control over receiving messages from other platforms to prevent potential spam. When enabled, users will see a dedicated “Third Party Chats” section at the top of their chat list, distinguishing messages from other platforms and maintaining the end-to-end encryption for WhatsApp-native messages. This development aligns with the DMA’s March 6 deadline, and the new functionality is expected to roll out in the coming weeks.
WhatsApp’s Engineering Director, Dick Brouwer, confirmed that the Third Party Chats feature will allow messages, including various attachments, to be sent across different platforms. Other chat services can use the open-source Signal Protocol to encrypt messages and communicate with WhatsApp’s servers. WhatsApp is documenting its client-server protocol to let other services connect directly to its servers for cross-platform messaging. However, it is essential for these services to match WhatsApp’s security standards or use a less secure “proxy” to communicate with their service. Users will have to opt in to receive messages from third-party platforms, safeguarding against potential spam and scams, and the feature will not support regular SMS messages for third-party chats. The rollout of Third Party Chats is imminent as WhatsApp works to comply with EU regulations and enhance cross-platform communication.