In the spirit of Facebook’s pursuit to take full control of your online life, the social network has reportedly constructed a new chat function. “Host Chat” will give users the capability to set up chat rooms their Facebook contacts can join at any time, without the need for an invite. Facebook has confirmed that it’s testing the feature “with a small percentage of users,” which is pretty much their modus operandi prior to rolling out a major function to the Facebook masses.
This development could not have come at a better time, since there seems to be a battle of the best unified messaging platform, led by Apple’s iMessage and Google’s recent project, Hangouts (despite its various iffy privacy issues), as well as highly popular apps like WhatsApp and even our favorite, controversial communication tool, Snapchat. Studies have already determined chat apps to be responsible for the big spike in traditional text messaging this year, and chat rooms will be able to easily ride on their success. More importantly, it will encourage Facebook users to log in more social media time on the site, even for the brief moment they spend to enter a chat room, drop a quick hey to a select few, and exit.
But for just one second let’s collectively think about how 2001 this is; chat rooms?! Remember chat rooms? You would download AIM and then mindlessly wander through chat rooms and log out when you got a weird vibe from someone asking for your a/s/l.
A Tech Crunch source has revealed how Host Chat is designed to work:
A new “Host Chat” button will become available atop the News Feed, where one usually, quickly posts an update or uploads a photo or video.
Upon clicking the button, a chat room appears, with an option to be titled by the user. The user can then add friends into the chat room, comparable to Facebook’s already existing Group Chat function. And in the same way traditional private chat appears as a small window, the chat room is expected to follow suit, though taking up a bit more space to be able to contain a bigger bulk of message exchange.
Anybody on the host’s friends list can essentially join in on the fun – they may do so when a notification shows up in the news feed alerting them of a chat room’s creation. However, a host can always set restrictions on the chat room to limit the number of people allowed in and boot out any person they don’t want in on the conversation.
According to the same source, quite a few Facebook employees are beta testing the new chat feature, currently limited to text-only functionality. Some additional features that could make it to Host Chat (but still remain unconfirmed) include allowing friends of friends to join and emoji and sticker integration. Furthermore, while Facebook boasted of its initiative to boost mobile use earlier this year, testing for chat rooms have been limited to the Web.