Facebook's Zoom rival is here. The social network is now rolling out Messenger Rooms, a video calling service that lets you chat with up to 50 people at once. You don't even have to be a Facebook user to join.
Messenger Rooms borrow a lot of features from similar video chat platforms. For example, you can use virtual backgrounds such as Zoom, apply effects and filters to your face, share your screen with others in the conversation, lock your chat room as in Houseparty and more.
You can now create Messenger rooms globally through the Facebook Messenger app on your Android and iOS smartphones. But users in North America will only be able to create a chat room from the main Facebook app.
To access the Messenger rooms on your computer, you must download the Messenger app from the Microsoft Store or Mac App Store.
Make sure that the app you are using on any of the mentioned platforms is updated to the latest version in order to create Messenger rooms. If you simply join a room and do not create a room, you can do so by opening the link for the room that is shared with you through a browser.
How to create Messenger rooms with the Messenger app
After Messenger rooms have just started rolling out globally, you should see a question about trying them when you open your updated Messenger app. If you don't see a question, just go to the "People" tab of your Facebook Messenger app and hit the "Create a Room" option.
When you create a Messenger Room, Facebook gives you the opportunity to create an open link that anyone – even non-Facebook members – can access. But if you only want to limit participation to Facebook users, you also have the option to select "People only on Facebook" from the "Who can join" tab.
After selecting your public permissions, you can click the "Share link" button and send the created link to other participants via email, WhatsApp , Messenger, Slack or any other preferred platform.
When the room is live, people with the link can see your name and profile photo and that you are in the room. This can also include people you are not friends with on Facebook, depending on who you shared the link with.
As a privacy measure, the creator of the room must be present for the conversation to begin. Creators can also remove individual participants at any time.
When you have all your participants in the room, you can tap the folk icon on the screen to access the call settings. Here you can choose to lock the room so that no more participants can enter. You can also add more attendees by selecting the "Share Link" option from this menu, deleting individual attendees by pressing the "Delete" button next to their name, or pressing "End Room" to remove all attendees at once. and disable the call's video call link (see image above).
If you host a video call and wait for people to join, you also have a cool alternative to leaving the room until others join. You can access this option by touching the X icon in the upper left corner of the conversation screen. Here you can choose to both leave and come back later or simply end the call.
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Using Messenger Rooms on Facebook
As we mentioned earlier, creating Messenger rooms is currently only possible in the United States through the Facebook app. After updating the Facebook app to the latest version, you should see a question about creating Messenger rooms in your news feed. You can start and share Messenger rooms in the Facebook app through your pages about news feeds, groups or events.
The video chat options here are pretty much the same as Messenger, except for a few settings. For example, the link sharing settings remain the same and you can choose who to join your room in the same way as Messenger. Unlike in Messenger, however, you can schedule when to make your room live via the "Start Time" setting. This can be very handy if you are hosting a live concert or webinar with the service.
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Using Messenger Room on the desktop
If you want to use Messenger Room to share your screen with other participants, you must download the Facebook Messenger app on your Windows PC or Mac.
The desktop app is obviously more useful if there are a large number of participants in a room and you need a larger screen to see them at the same time. You can create Messenger Rooms directly from your desktop app. However, you will not be able to use filters, effects, virtual backgrounds or call scheduling through the desktop version of Messenger.
So that's all you need to know about using Facebook's new Messenger Rooms service. If you cannot add up to 50 people to your room, the option may not have rolled out to you yet. But Facebook says it has started to deploy the feature worldwide and that it should be available to everyone soon.
Not interested in using Facebook Messenger Rooms? Here are some options you might want to check out.
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