Facebook’s Zoom rival is here. The social network has rolled out Messenger Rooms, a video calling service that allows you to chat with up to 50 people at the same time. You don’t even need to be a Facebook user to join in.
Messenger Rooms borrows a bunch of features from similar video chatting platforms. For instance, you can use virtual backgrounds like in Zoom, apply effects and filters to your face, share your screen with others on the call, lock your chat room like in Houseparty, and more.
How to create a Facebook Messenger Rooms in the Messenger app
- Open the Facebook Messenger app.
- Click on the “People” tab and tap on the “Create a Room” option.
- When you’re creating a Messenger Room, Facebook will give you the option of creating an open link that anyone — even non-Facebook members — can access. If you want to limit participation to Facebook users, you can select the “Only people on Facebook” option from the “Who can join” tab.
- Once you’ve selected your audience permissions, tap on 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 will be able to see your name and profile photo, and that you’re in the room. This could also include people who you’re not friends with on Facebook, depending on who you’ve shared the link with.
How to create Messenger Rooms on the Facebook app
You can also start and share Messenger Rooms on the Facebook app through your News Feed, Groups, or Events pages.
The video chat options here are largely the same as Messenger, apart from a few settings. For instance, the link-sharing settings remain the same and you can choose who gets to join your room in the same way as Messenger. However, unlike in Messenger, you can schedule when to make your room go live through the “Start Time” setting. This could be very handy if you’re hosting a live concert or webinar using the service.
Here are all the ways you can create Messenger Rooms through the Facebook app.
Create Messenger Room through News Feed
- Scroll to the Rooms button on the homepage.
- Tap on “Create” below your profile picture.
- When you create a room, you can add a room activity, choose who can discover your room, and add a start time. You can always edit these settings later.
- To choose who is invited, tap the setting for the same. Now tap next to “Friends” to share with all your Facebook friends. You can also tap on specific people or allow link sharing.
- Once you’ve chosen all the participants, hit “Save.”
You can read more about setting up a start time and more here.
Create Messenger Room in a Facebook Group
- Tap on “Groups” in the left menu from your News Feed.
- Select the group where you want to create a Messenger Room.
- Tap the camera icon on top of the group page.
- Enter a room activity, choose an emoji, and hit “Save.”
- After this, tap “Create,” write something about the room, and post it to the group.
There’s also another way of creating Messenger Rooms in groups if you’re still on the classic Facebook design. Check here for instructions.
How to use Messenger Rooms on the desktop
The desktop app is obviously more helpful if there are a large number of participants in a room and you need a larger screen to view them all at once. You can create Messenger Rooms directly from your desktop app. However, you won’t be able to use filters, effects, virtual backgrounds, or call scheduling through the desktop version of Messenger.
How to change privacy settings on Facebook Messenger Rooms
Just like Zoom, you have multiple ways of ensuring privacy and safety of calls made using Facebook Messenger Rooms. The most basic precautionary measure that Messenger Rooms deploys is that the creator of the room needs to be present in order for a call to begin. Call creators also have the power to remove individual participants at any time. The following are all the privacy and safety measures you can take while using Facebook Messenger Rooms.
- Locking: Call admins can lock or unlock a room once a call begins. If a room is locked, no one else can join, except for admins.
- Removing a participant: You remove individual participants by tapping the “Remove” button next to their names.
- Reporting: You can report a room name or submit feedback about a room if you believe it violates Facebook’s community standards.
- Blocking: You can block anyone on Facebook or Messenger. When someone you’ve blocked is logged into Facebook or Messenger, they won’t be able to join a room you’re in and you won’t be able to join theirs.
If you’re hosting a video call and waiting for people to join, you also have a cool option to leave the room till others join in. You can access the option by pressing the X icon on the top left corner of the call screen. Here, you can choose to leave and come back later or simply end the call.
How to use virtual backgrounds on Facebook Messenger Rooms?
If you want to use effects, filters, or virtual backgrounds, you can tap the window where you see yourself and an array of options will appear at the bottom of your screen.
So that’s everything you need to know about using Facebook’s new Messenger Rooms service. If you’re not being able to add up to 50 people in your room, the option may not have rolled out to you yet. However, Facebook says that it has started pushing the feature out worldwide and it should be available to all shortly.
Not interested in using Facebook Messenger Rooms? Here are some alternative video calling apps you might want to check out.