Facebook recently stated that in the midst of the pandemic, some of their properties have seen heavy increases in demand for communicating by video. The company added that In many countries, Messenger and WhatsApp video calling has more than doubled and more people are watching live streams “broadcast” by Instagram and Facebook users.
With that as a backdrop, Facebook has introduced Messenger Rooms. Users can create a room from Facebook or Messenger and invite up to 50 people to join them in a video chat with no time limit. And you can even invite people to join you even if they do not have a Facebook account.
Facebook says that it will soon allow users to create such rooms from Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Portal. If you’re invited to “enter” a room, you can join from your phone or computer right away without having to download anything. And anyone with the Messenger app can spruce up their appearance through the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence. With the former, you can add things like bunny ears, and with the latter, you can place yourself in selected locations using immersive 360-degree backgrounds.
Those who create a room have the power to kick people out and can also lock a room if they don’t want any more people to join. In fact, the room creator gets to decide who can see the room and join it. And no one is stuck inside a room; anyone can leave whenever they feel like it. And if you create a room, you can block people from entering, but you won’t be able to join their rooms. The new Messenger Rooms will be available in some countries this week and will be offered to the rest of the world in the upcoming months.
Facebook stated, “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 checks everyone’s calendar first. You can start and share rooms on Facebook through News Feed, Groups, and Events, so it’s easy for people to drop by.”
On its privacy page, Facebook notes that it doesn’t watch your video calls (or listen to your audio calls for that matter). But it does collect data from Messenger Rooms whether you joined via the app or just walked into a room without having an account. The data collected is used to improve the experience of using the feature and Facebook says that it does not show ads in any of the Rooms and that video and audio from these Rooms are not used to “inform ads.” If you “walk” into a room without having a Facebook account, information like the device and browser you’re using is collected to, in the words of Facebook, “improve the Rooms product experience and to help keep Rooms safe and secure.