Facebook is adding a new feature to Messenger that allows users to video chat in groups. With Messenger Rooms, users can eventually start a video call with fifty people at a time, including WhatsApp and Instagram users.
The feature allows users to start a video call with multiple users. Initially, there can only be eight people in what Facebook calls a ‘room’, but in the coming weeks, that number should rise to 50. The feature will work not only in Facebook Messenger but ultimately also with Instagram and WhatsApp. How that works exactly is not clear. Facebook wants longer that WhatsApp and Instagram users can chat with Messenger users among themselves.
Users can start a ‘room’ from their News Feed and from Messenger. Later, this can also be done from the dm feature in Instagram and from WhatsApp. The conversations are not encrypted, but Facebook tells The Verge that it “does not monitor or listen to the conversations.”
There is no need to download a separate app for the Rooms function. It works directly in Messenger. Users can also use various filters there, such as rabbit ears that can be placed on the image via ar. Rooms also get 360-degree backgrounds that rotate with the person.
Facebook gives users various options for determining who can visit a ‘room’. This is possible for only people who specifically invite them, but also for all their Facebook friends, who can then access a conversation from their News Feed. Users can also create a unique link to a ‘room’ that they can share. Rooms can be closed to outsiders, and if someone is dropped from a conversation by the host, that person cannot come back without permission.
Facebook announced the new feature on Friday. The company says it has seen more and more video calls appear on its services since the corona crisis. In many countries, the number of calls via Messenger and WhatsApp is said to have doubled. Facebook is also introducing some other new video features on its platforms. The company increases the maximum number of participants in a WhatsApp conversation from four to eight, something that happened recently in the beta version . Instagram users can also view live streams from their desktop, and it becomes possible on Facebook itself to add another person to a live stream.
For the time being, the function can only be used in America. Facebook says Rooms will be rolled out to other countries in the coming weeks.