Facebook continues to advance its video chat capabilities by introducing a Houseparty-like feature called Messenger Rooms.
What makes Room unique, compared to regular Messenger video chats, is their spontaneous nature.
“Spending time with each other should be spontaneous, not strained,” Facebook says in an announcement.
Rooms can be created without users having to call each other directly.
That’s what makes them more casual compared to standard video calls.
Users can create a room and share a link to it with whoever they wish.
Other users can choose to join the room at any point in time.
People can join when the room opens, or drop in while the chat is already underway.
As Facebook explains, you don’t have to worry about whether the time is right for a video call:
“Host celebrations, gather a book club or just hang out on the couch with friends.
You don’t need to call someone and hope it’s a good time or check everyone’s calendar first.”
Starting a Room
Users can start and share rooms on Facebook either through the news feed, in a group, or on an event page.
Creating a room gives users full control over who can see and join it.
However, if a room is created in an group or an event page, then it will be available to everyone in that group or event by default.
The creator of the room can remove other people if needed, or lock it so no further participants can join.
The company says it will soon add ways to create rooms from Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Portal.
Joining a Room
People will see rooms to join in their news feed when they’re shared by friends or members of groups they belong to.
Users can also send direct invites for others to join a room.
Rooms can be joined either on mobile or desktop, and there’s no additional app to download.
People can even join without having a Facebook account, as long as they’ve been sent an invite link.
Facebook is vague on the details about the rollout of Messenger Rooms.
Currently, the feature is slated to launch in “some” countries this week, with a worldwide expansion to follow in the coming weeks.
Zuckerberg Says Video Boom Not Temporary
Lately there has been a considerable demand for real-time video on Facebook.
More than 700 million accounts engage in video calls each day across WhatsApp and Messenger.
Usage of video calls has doubled in some countries, and views of live videos on Facebook and Instagram have grown “significantly” since March.
But is that going to last? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks so.
In a recent interview with The Verge, Zuckerberg was asked that very question.
Here’s his response:
“When you have 700 million people a day doing something — and have been even before this started for some period — that’s not just a temporary thing.
The trend was already going in that direction. And I think that this period will accelerate that permanently by a few years.”
A Note About Privacy
In a separate blog post about the privacy of Messenger Rooms, Facebook ensures users their chats are secure.
“Regardless of whether you use Rooms through your Facebook account or join as a guest, we don’t watch or listen to your audio or video calls.”
Facebook also mentions it has been working with security teams to make Rooms links difficult to for hackers to guess.
“Our room links have a string of random characters and digits at the end, with numbers and letters in different cases.
This makes it challenging for hackers to guess the exact combination of characters, and a new link is generated every time you create a room.”
Given the extent to which hackers have exploited Zoom as of late, Facebook is not taking any chances with the security of Rooms.
Sources: Facebook Newsroom (1, 2), The Verge
Can I join a Facebook video call without an account?
Facebook Messenger Rooms allow users to join without an account if they have received an invite from the host.
Is Messenger Rooms a secure platform?
Messenger rooms is not end-to-end encrypted, though Facebook ensures calls are private and rooms are safe from hackers.