Viber Launches Public Chats, a 'New Way to Get Behind the Scenes'

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Viber Launches Public Chats, a 'New Way to Get Behind the Scenes'
Viber, the messaging app that is now owned by Japanese company Rakouten, has launched the Public Chats feature that lets users follow and participate in public conversations.

The Public Chats feature, though being popularised as a way to follow celebrity chatter, can also be used by regular people - any of whom can start a Public Chat. The existing Viber users will be soon getting the new Public Chats feature and can choose the option from the main menu. To browse live conversations, Viber app users will have to select the 'compass' icon to search list of Public Chats to follow.

Viber announced the Public Chats feature on Twitter and said, "We're excited to announce #ViberPublicChats a new social entertainment platform that lets you listen in on celebrity conversations."

Viber has also launched a separate Public Chats microsite to promote the new feature, where it's described as, "Public Chats is a new way to get behind the scenes with music, film, fashion, sports or whatever else you're into."

CEO Talmon Marco revealed to Techcrunch the new Public Chats feature has been optimised first for Android devices though it will work on other platforms well, as long as they are running version 5.0 or above.

The Public Chats will include live conversations from people (whom users follow) and even celebrities. The company in a YouTube video reveals that the most popular chats will be featured on the Public Chats home screen of the Viber app. Techcrunch also notes that while users can follow any Public Chat, they "will only be able to jump in and talk in Public Chats if the account in question is in their contacts."

According to Techcrunch, Viber's Public Chats will be launched with a list of signed-up celebrities such as Perez Hilton, YouTube sensation Tyler Oakley, singer-songwriter Pixie Lott, international DJ Paul van Dyk, digital fashion innovators Next Model Management, European football channel COPA90.

Talking to Techcrunch, Marco told "We spoke with a bunch of people and some offered to participate. Generally we are looking for those who can create interesting chats - not just celebs but others like taxi drivers or bloggers, people whose conversations we feel would be interesting."

On being asked about similarities to Twitter, Marco replied, "This is not Twitter. The idea is that if you know Pixie Lott, she can add her to your Public Chat and the world can see."

Viber's CEO also confirmed that there will be no advertising content pushed on the Public Chats. He said, "This is just additional content on Viber. There will be no ads in Public Chats."

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Further reading: Android, Apps, Instant Messaging, Viber
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