Man having a virtual video call

Facebook Introduces 'Messenger Rooms’ Amid the Need for Virtual Ways to Connect


Chat rooms are back now that Facebook has launched its drop-in ‘Messenger Rooms’ feature on April 24, 2020. People can now use natively through Facebook, the Messeng
er app, and now Instagram. This is just another update that Facebook and other companies have made now that there is a higher demand for people to connect virtually during the pandemic.

Facebook’s ‘Messenger Rooms’ Explained

Facebook’s ‘Messenger Rooms’ now rivals other virtual video-chat applications such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, Houseparty, Skype, Google Hangouts, and the list goes on.

But, is Messenger Rooms any different for all the other video-chat apps out there?

Facebook’s Messenger Rooms becomes another option for casual conversations with friends and family like similar competitors’ FaceTime and Houseparty. With Messenger Rooms, Facebook users can create a video chat room via Facebook or the Messenger app and invite up to 50 people to join a video call. Messenger Rooms is free for everyone, you don’t even need to have a Facebook account and there is no time limit on calls. Also, you can select themes for your chats, pick from inviting all your Facebook friends to only inviting specific people, and you can choose to have your chat room now or schedule it for a later date and time — these are just some of the features that Messenger Rooms has to offer that is different from its competitors.

How Do You Start a ‘Room’ on Facebook?

You can create a room by opening the Messenger or Facebook app, then tapping the ‘People’ tab at the bottom right of the screen, and tapping ‘Create a room.’

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Then you will select the people you want to invite to your room.

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Then you the people you invite will receive an invite to join your Chat Room. BOOM now you have a Chat Room! (note: picture is me waiting for people to join)

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BREAKING NEWS: While writing this blog on May 26, 2020 (almost a month later from when Facebook announced Messenger Rooms), Instagram launched Messenger Rooms in Instagram direct messages!

The catch with now having Messenger Rooms on Instagram is you need to have an Instagram and Facebook account to use the feature. You will have to link your Facebook account in your Instagram ‘Settings’ otherwise ‘Create a Room’ will not show as an option. A new feature that is not currently available via Facebook or Messenger is you can shrink the video-chat to continue scrolling through Instagram.

How do you start a ‘Room’ on Instagram?

You can create a room by opening the Instagram app, then tapping the “arrow” icon at the top right of the home screen, and tapping the “video camera” icon.

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Then you will see the option to “Create a Room,” you will go ahead and click on that.

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Then Instagram will have you choose people to send the Room link to (make sure your Facebook account is linked).

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Once you pick your Instagram friends to send the link to, then send the link and now you have a chat room set-up! (Note: only people with the link can access your Room)

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Messenger Rooms vs. Zoom

If you compare Zoom and Messenger Rooms both present similar with video conferencing in a grid form and they both allow users to share screens or schedule chats ahead of time. Zoom was originally targeted to business customers but picked up by consumers during the pandemic, Messenger Rooms is firmly aimed at consumers and meant for connecting with friends and family. With Messenger Rooms you can leave a room open with a group of friends, or your entire Facebook friends list, and then anyone can drop-in at any time versus Zoom where you need to have the link in order to join the call (note: if you use Messenger Rooms via Instagram, users have to have the chat link to join).

Facebook is familiar with privacy and security concerns with users, so they have crafted a Messenger Rooms’ privacy protection policy, which you can read here.

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