Facebook steps into the ring with the likes of Zoom, Housparty, and Google Meet with the launch of Messenger Rooms. It is a group call feature that can cater to up to 50 participants. Even non-Facebook members can use it.
COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in a huge spike in video calling. People are relying on various apps to stay in touch. Facebook Inc. comes up with its new feature to give Zoom and others a tough time. The Messenger Rooms will have no time limit and are being touted as the next big thing.
The feature is rolling out in various countries and it might take a few weeks before it is globally available. Facebook says that there are almost 700 million account holders, spread over WhatsApp and Facebook, that are partaking in video calls each day. The number of calls has doubled in many countries while some countries are even witnessing a ten times increase.
Facebook says Messenger Rooms can be created within the Facebook Messenger and the link can be shared on news feeds, events, or groups. Facebook took its time before committing to this feature – to sort out the issues that its rivals have been facing. For instance, Zoombombing and privacy concerns over Zoom’s vulnerabilities have been going on for quite some time.
On the other hand, the person creating the room with Facebook’s new feature will have complete control over who can join in and, either lock or unlock the room. The host will also be able to kick out any participant at any given time.
Messenger Rooms And Privacy Concerns
Facebook is not a stranger to privacy concerns. It claims that the Messenger Rooms are safe. Stan Chudnovsky, vice president of Messenger, says, ‘We don’t view or listen to your calls, and the person who creates the room controls who can join, who sees the room, and if the room is locked or unlocked to new guests. The room creator must be present for the call to begin, and the creator can remove guests at any time’.
Facebook also explains that Room links are not easy for hackers to guess. They include a random string of characters and digits that include varying cases. It says, ‘This makes it challenging for hackers to guess the exact combination of characters, and a new link is generated every time you create a room.’
Safety Is Facebook’s Primary Concern
The social media giant claims that safety was the primary concern during Rooms’ development. Thus ensuring that people could comfortably connect with their friends and family members. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, however, expresses its concern. Andry Burrows, head of NSPCC, said, ‘Our research shows one in 10 children who have video chatted have been asked to remove clothes, so if Facebook is serious about safety being “top of the mind,” they must immediately set out how they intend to respond to the very real risk of sexual abuse.’
Nonetheless, Facebook’s arrival implies that Zoom and other such companies need to up their game. Otherwise, they run the risk of losing their place in this market.