Mobile messaging and VoIP app Viber today announced a new Public Chats beta feature that will allow public figures and companies to share group discussions with fans.
At a launch event, Viber CEO Talmon Marco described Public Chats as a social experiment. The feature, which goes live for users at midnight GMT on Wednesday, is intended to satisfy our morbid curiosity about what other people are chatting about. Users won’t be able to contribute to public chats, but Viber does plan to enable user comments in the future.
Viber will feature popular chats in a new section in version 5.1 of its iOS and Android apps. Each discussion will also include a custom URL.
The most popular chats will be featured on the home screen of the Public Chats section of Viber. Users can easily search to discover who is chatting, or they can access a chat directly through its customized URL.
Launch partners include blogger Perez Hilton, YouTuber Tyler Oakley, musician Pixie Lott, DJ Paul van Dyk, fashion company Next Model Management and football channel COPA90. Over 300 individual public chats are available on the service; interested parties can apply to start a public chat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Viber, which was acquired by Rakuten earlier this year, boasts 460 million registered users and 210 million monthly active users around the world.