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Facebook’s Messenger Rooms goes global to take on Zoom

Facebook has launched Messenger Rooms globally.

The rollout of its Zoom-like videoconferencing service follows a limited release at the end of last month.

In North America, you can activate Messenger Rooms via Facebook, while those in the rest of the world can do the same through Messenger. Notably, you can invite anyone into a room by simply sharing a web link; in other words, no Facebook account is required to use the new service.

As many as 50 people can join a video chat on Messenger Rooms, and there’s no limit to the length of a call. When you start a room, friends will get an alert in their news feed or receive a notification telling them about it.

As you’d expect, Facebook is pitching Rooms as a place where friends can hang out and have a good time. In an obvious effort to set it apart from Zoom, which made its name in the more formal world of work, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described Rooms as “much more serendipitous and fun” than similar services.

Well aware of the privacy and security issues that tarnished Zoom’s reputation as the platform gained wider exposure in recent months, Facebook is keen to point out that it has focused on both of these areas to offer what it claims is a safe environment for video meetings using Messenger Rooms.

“You can choose who can see and join your room or remove people from your room and lock the room if you don’t want anyone else to join,” the social networking giant said, at the same time noting that it has a special page highlighting Rooms’ privacy and security controls.

To create your room, make sure you have the latest version of the Facebook and Messenger mobile apps from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, and the Messenger desktop app from the Microsoft Store or Mac App Store.

The company said it will be adding more features in the coming months, and is also aiming to bring Messenger Rooms to the other apps in its stable, namely Instagram and WhatsApp.

Messenger Rooms also goes up against Google Meet, which this week released a free version of its service. The two internet giants are clearly keen to take the wind out of Zoom’s sails as an increasing number of people turn to multi-person video chats to connect with friends and colleagues.

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Trevor Mogg
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