Zuck is at it again. Evidently miffed by the pandemic popularity of videoconferencing upstart Zoom, Facebook announced their copycat—ahem, their version—of the same idea. The best part: Facebook’s version is called…
…wait for it…
Room. Messenger Rooms, to be exact (grammar gets tricky from here on out). Here’s our quick ripoff CLIKK Notes of AdAge’s reporting:
Was Facebook zoomin’ to get Roomin’?
Oh, definitely. Rooms was almost certainly in the pipeline pre-’rona — it’s not like Facebook started development from scratch a month ago — but watching Zoom jump from 10 to 300 million users in a single month had to have lit a fire under Facebook’s dev timeline. Leaving Zoom aside, Messenger Rooms is also (shall we call it) an “homage” to the recent hit HouseParty in that both apps are fun social twists on videoconferencing. For now, HouseParty remains our favorite social spot for an evening quarantini.
Who can Room together?
Technically, Rooms are wide open because you don’t need your own Facebook account to use the service. Before you get nervous about Uncle Harry popping in unannounced: each Room is invitation-only. Before you get nervous about filling the room or running out the (free) clock: each Room can fit up to 50 people, and there’s no time limit on the calls. And before you get nervous about Facebook monitoring calls, they say they’re not doing that… or go ahead and stay skeptical, since Messenger Rooms aren’t end-to-end encrypted. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Where will Facebook find cash in Rooms?
Platforms cost money, and Facebook isn’t offering this out of the kindness of its heart. So to answer the question in a phrase: expanded long-term advertising potential. Rooms dovetails nicely with Facebook’s current focus on widening e-commerce advertising revenues. Even if Rooms connect(s) users directly to each other—with no advertising in between—it’s still exciting to advertisers because it represents a lot more (video-centric) time on Facebook’s platforms. Thus, the big blue F is also beefing up video-streaming services on Facebook Live and its previously-neglected IGTV.
When is/are Rooms open?
Technically, now (although it’s not yet rolled out for everyone here at CLIKK HQ). In Messenger, click on “People” in the lower right corner, then invite people to join your “room.”
Does this mean I don’t have to buy a Portal?
Like anyone (besides Uncle Harry) was actually going to do that. 😂