Facebook introduces new feature called ‘Rooms’ – a 50-person video chat experience to take on Zoom

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, majority of the world has gone into some sort of lockdown or self-isolation with millions turning to video chat platforms to stay connected and maintain as much of a normal social life as possible. From catching up with friends and family, to business meetings, fitness classes, cyber-sex, virtual concerts and even funerals, these platforms are proving to be invaluable right now.

According to a report on Business Insider, Zoom – once a firmly corporate-focused video-chat service, it has skyrocketed from 10 million daily users to 300 million in a matter of months under the pandemic with users from all walks of life now making use of the platform to stay connected with friends, family and colleagues.

As Zoom’s popularity rises, the Chinese founded and owned company has also faced backlash over its flimsy security and recent data breaches making the platform rather risky to use. Companies across the board including Google banned the use of Zoom by its employees for any work-related communication.

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And just this week, Facebook announced it would be adding a new feature called Messanger Rooms – which will allow Facebook users (and users without accounts) to join video chatrooms with up to 50 people at a time.

The basic idea with Messenger Rooms is you should be able to create a room for any activity or any event you want to hold. You should be able to send them a link, and then they should be able to drop by and hang out with you via video presence.” – Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg

Rooms will allow members to create public or private video chatrooms to interact with friends and even strangers and like Zoom, Rooms will offer virtual backgrounds and augmented reality filters. Initially, users will be able to create a chat room through the core Facebook app – but in time they’ll spread throughout all of Facebook’s services, to Instagram direct messages, WhatsApp, and its Portal device.

The chatrooms will soon be displayed at the top of users’ Facebook news feeds right above ‘Stories.’ If a room’s privacy settings allow it, anyone will be able to join them via a link even if they don’t have a Facebook account.

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Facebook also announced it will be adding eight-person video calls to WhatsApp, as well as video-call functionality to Facebook Dating. New updates will also let users watch Instagram Live broadcasts from desktop for the first time and will also see the return of the “Live With” feature that allows users to co-livestream with others and which it previously discontinued.

The new feature will launch in a few unspecified countries this week and will roll out the feature to the rest of the world in the coming weeks. Read more on the latest tech news right here.

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