Facebook has announced the launch of ‘Messenger Rooms’ today. Messenger Rooms are joinable group video calls, which one can start right from Messenger or Facebook, and invite anyone to join, even if they don’t have a Facebook account. At present capped to 8 users, Rooms will soon hold up to 50 people with no time limit.

Facebook has been missing the many-to-many communication function for quite some time. There have been concerted attempts from the company, to cover that gap, like launching and tweaking IGTV, Facebook Live etc., but they haven’t resulted in the kind of userbase that Zoom, Google Meet or others command. And since Facebook does not want to miss out on even the smallest ounce of internet users, Messenger Rooms is perhaps company’s most focused attempt yet, to take on the likes of Zoom and Houseparty. Not that it is a steal of features from either though, since Rooms has been in discussion since 2018 at least.

So how does Messenger Rooms work? Well its fairly simple. Any user can simply head to the Messenger app right away, and create a room. Anyone can be invited to join, and invited folks can join in even if they do not have a Facebook account. Users can start and share rooms on Facebook through News Feed, Groups and Events, so it’s easy for people to drop by. The company will soon add ways to create rooms from Instagram Direct, WhatsApp and Portal, too.

If there are any rooms that have been kept open to you, you’ll see them on your Facebook feed for you to drop in. When you’re invited to a room, you can join from your phone or computer — no need to download anything to get started.

There couldn’t have been a better time for Facebook to get on with its own video calling platform. The company says, that between Messenger and WhatsApp, more than 700 million accounts participate in voice and video calls every day, and the number of calls has more than doubled in many countries since the pandemic began. In some cases, the number of group video calls has gone up by more than 10 times. The time clearly seems opportune.

In terms of user privacy, Facebook is at it right from the start. “e don’t view or listen to your calls, and the person who creates the room controls who can join, who sees the room, and if the room is locked or unlocked to new guests. The room creator must be present in order for the call to begin, and the creator can remove guests at any time. You can report a room name or submit feedback about a room if you believe it violated our Community Standards.”, said Facebook in a blog post.

Messenger Rooms is rolling out in some countries this week and will expand to the rest of the world in coming weeks, including the US.

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