Messenger Rooms, Facebook's free service to take on Zoom
In a major move, social media giant Facebook has launched Messenger Rooms, a dedicated virtual meeting platform to take on the likes of Zoom and Google Meet. The service comes for free and lets you hold virtual meetings with anyone, regardless of whether they have a Facebook account or not. Here's all you need to know about it.
Though Facebook has long been offering the option to hold group video calls via Messenger and WhatsApp, the capability was limited both in terms of participants and reach. Now, Messenger Rooms tackles all those problems by letting a Facebook Messenger user create a meeting room and share its link with anyone they want to have a call with, just like Zoom.
Facebook says up to 50 participants could join a Rooms meeting by using the shared URL, and they do not need to have a Facebook account to do that. In fact, the participants, who are not active on the social network, are only required to share their names while joining a meeting so that they could be easily identified by all other participants.
In addition to this, it is also worth noting that hosting a meeting on Messenger Rooms is completely free of cost and you can have it for as long as you want. This is a major advantage over Zoom, which comes with a 40-minute meeting limit for those who are active on the free tier of the service.
Among other things, Messenger Rooms - if used via Messenger - allows participants to use smart augmented reality effects and new elements like immersive virtual backgrounds and mood lighting. Meanwhile, the hosts get the ability to control who gets to join and share the meeting, along with tools to lock a room (keeping others from joining) or remove a participant from an ongoing call.
Messenger Rooms meetings are not end-to-end encrypted due to the involvement of large groups of people but Facebook says it is working towards introducing the ability. For now, the company says that its meetings will be encrypted between participants and Facebook servers that have been "placed in only a handful of countries that have [a] strong rule of law."
Messenger Rooms is currently rolling out for Facebook and Messenger in some countries and will eventually expand to other parts of the world in the coming weeks. Facebook says it will also enable the ability to let users start Rooms meetings through Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Portal, too. Meanwhile, the WhatsApp integration has already gone live in beta, according to popular tipster WABetaInfo.