Messenger Rooms, Facebook’s alternative to Zoom, is now rolling out for users based in North America.
The new video chat service, which was first unveiled last month, will let you hold large meetings with up to 50 participants. Messenger Rooms is completely free, and features no time limits on your video sessions.
You’ll be able to access the service by going to top of your Facebook Newsfeed, and clicking on “Create a room.” You can also do the same via the Messenger app by going into the “People” tab, and selecting “Create a Room.”
When you create a room, you can invite your Facebook friends to it, or get a shareable URL link. People with no Facebook account can also join the meeting too. All they have to do is simply paste the URL link in the Chrome browser, and they should be able to connect.
It doesn’t appear you can password protect a shareable link, so be careful posting a Messenger Room session on social media. However, the room creator can lock a room once a call begins and remove any unwanted participants. (More details on the security options can be found here.)
One standout feature is how you can create a room to live on your Facebook profile, enabling friends or family members to spontaneously drop in to say hello. You can do the same as well by visiting the top of your Facebook NewsFeed and check which of your friends currently have rooms open for people to visit.
“You don’t need to schedule time to hang out like other video conferencing tools — it’s much more serendipitous and fun,” company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in today’s announcement.
Facebook is launching the feature as the pandemic is causing everyone to stay at home, and communicate online via video conferencing services. Among the most popular products has been Zoom, which can also host video meetings with up to 50 people across a single display.
Now Facebook wants to get in on the action. “WhatsApp and Messenger are already the most popular video calling services globally, but for large groups most of the video services out there are designed for work, not social interactions,” Zuckerberg said in a possible dig at Zoom, a video conferencing service that was originally designed for enterprises.
In addition to today’s launch in North America, Facebook plans on rolling out Messenger Rooms globally next week. The company is also working to bring the service to WhatsApp and Instagram.