Facebook is taking on Zoom head-on.
The social media giant announced Messenger Rooms, a video-calling feature that allows up to 50 users to start a virtual hangout with no time limit.
You can invite anyone to join, even those who don’t have a Facebook account. Rooms can stay open to specific groups or friend circles and allow users to drop in and out, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg said a new feature at the top of your Newsfeed will show all active rooms. “You can just drop in or your friends can just drop into your room,” he said.
Eventually Facebook will roll out its Rooms to Instagram and WhatsApp.
Because of the way privacy concerns have become linked to Facebook lately, the company released a detailed post explaining how it ensured that privacy was protected in the new Messenger Rooms feature.
“We built Rooms with privacy in mind and designed controls to let you manage your experience,” wrote Erin Egan, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, Policy. “The default privacy settings were designed to be consistent with what you’d expect for where you create a room. For example, rooms you create through a Facebook Group are open by default to members of that Group.”
And regardless of whether you use Rooms through your Facebook account or join as a guest, the social network doesn’t watch or listen to your audio or video calls, Ethan reassured.
The new feature is the clearest shot yet at Zoom, the videoconferencing service that has exploded in popularity since coronavirus lockdowns have forced people inside.
Zuckerberg said video chatting has “emerged as an incredibly important way people are relying on to stay connected to the people that they care about right now.”
In addition to the Messenger Room news, Zuckerberg announced that limits on WhatsApp video calls will be increased from only four users to eight starting next week.
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