As the world has been flocking to video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts for their daily dose of social interaction, Facebook has been working on a video conferencing feature of their own called Messenger Rooms. Messenger Rooms offers lots of great benefits similar to the array of platforms that are already available. One distinct difference of Messenger Rooms is an emphasis on “dropping by.”
First, let’s quickly talk about some of Messenger Rooms features. You are allowed up to 50 people at a time for free and with no time limit. The platform allows anyone with a Facebook account to start a room and invite their friends to join. The platform will soon be connecting to its other social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Portal for a more streamlined experience.
One cool thing here is that, for those who tend to stay away from social media or don’t even have a Facebook page, they can still jump on Messenger Rooms to see that new grandchild or that cousin that lives in Australia. No Facebook profile necessary to join the fun! You can simply follow the link provided and join a video call through a web browser.
Ok… so this might sound a lot like all the other platforms you’ve been using. What’s the difference?
Facebook is aiming to separate themselves from the competition by offering a “drop in” experience. When someone creates a room, a notification will pop up at the top of your Facebook timeline, where you’ll be presented with a “tray” of active Messenger Rooms to choose from. You can open a room to all your friends, make it available to select groups, or even connect it to participants of Facebook events. When you see the notification, you can just drop on into a room like a friendly neighbor.
In a livestreamed announcement, Mark Zuckerberg discussed that usually when you video chat with someone, you’ll typically ring them directly or set a time on a calendar. Messenger Rooms is different in that it opens up the experience to people who you may not connect with on a daily basis or someone you may not think to specifically call. The platform is placing spontaneity over schedule.
Users still have the ability to protect their privacy and security by vetting who comes in and out of the room and locking it when it starts. Zuckerberg noted that he has learned lessons from watching other people misuse video tools and has kept privacy in mind from the beginning of development. He specifically said that the program keeps it easy to keep out “that annoying uncle you don’t want to hang out with.”
Can’t we all relate to that?
Facebook will be rolling out the new program over the next couple of weeks. We’ll drop in then to report how it goes.