Those who have grown up in the Internet age may have fond memories of chat rooms, and the close-knit, niche online communities that they fostered. But for those who thought that chat rooms were a relic of the past, think again.
This week, Facebook is set to introduce Messenger Rooms in Australia and Canada. This new feature lets Facebook users set up a unique space — or “chat room” — to discuss a particular topic, theme or event.
Right now, only 250 users can join a Room, which can be made either public or private.
If you are an active Facebook user, you may be a little confused, as Facebook has long had a messaging function that allows for multiple users to privately message each other at once. So how does a Room differ from the group chat function currently available on Facebook’s Messenger?
According to Facebook, Messenger Rooms was rolled out due to feedback from Facebook users, who have been looking for modifications to Facebook’s current group chat function. Now, in order to become a part of a group chat, you need to be personally added by the creator of the chat, or invited to join by someone else. But with Messenger Rooms, Facebook users can just search for different thematic groups themselves, and independently join any group they find that may interest them.
As always, there are checks and balances to what goes on in Rooms, and Facebook can prevent a user from accessing this feature if they find them posting abusive or inappropriate content.
Facebook Messenger is already a hugely popular component of the social media site, attracting over one billion users. Messenger may be commonly used to keep up with friends or arrange social plans between a group of people, but Facebook has said that Rooms will function well for people looking to exchange commentary on live events. This sounds similar to Twitter, which users flock to for instantaneous updates during a major sports game or awards show, for example.