Facebook on Friday unveiled a brand new video chat service with virtual “rooms” where people can move into to go to friends, aiming at users turning to the popular Zoom platform during the pandemic.

Through the Facebook Messenger application, users are going to be able to start video call sessions that as many as 50 friends can join and linger in as long as they want, whether or not they don´t have Facebook accounts.

Unlike work video conferencing platforms like Zoom, “Messenger Rooms” is ready-made for socializing with friends and family whether it’s birthdays, happy hours, book clubs or parent groups.

“This is meant to be more serendipitous and spontaneous,” chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said while briefing AFP on Rooms.

“I just keep a window open on my computer or phone and folks who I normally wouldn´t move out of my thanks to calling just type of drop-in.”

“I want we are missing that in our lives at once,” he added.

The launch comes amid surging use of Zoom, which was designed as a business video platform, and other online chat services.

Facebook users are going to be able to create virtual rooms and choose who to ask to affix, in step with Zuckerberg.

“I may be hanging out on a couch on the weekend and transmit an invitation to any or all my friends to return to a ´hanging-out-on-the-couch room,´” Zuckerberg said.

Fun features include augmented-reality effects like bunny ears and aliens, together with immersive fake backgrounds.

Everyone invited

In an unusual step, people don´t need Facebook accounts or apps to go to Messenger Rooms.

“People can just send a link to their grandmother or whomever,” Zuckerberg said.

“You can tap on the link from anywhere and if you don´t have the app it’ll open in your browser.”

Facebook said it inbuilt defences to forestall unwanted guests from entering virtual rooms.

“There are tools to kick people out easily; lock rooms, or close them if things are going badly,” Zuckerberg said.

In the background, Facebook will make a priority of getting word of rooms to friends users show interest in engaging.

Facebook doesn’t view or hear calls, and folks who create rooms control who gets in, in step with Messenger VP Stan Chudnovsky.

Messenger Rooms was expected to be available to Facebook´s nearly 2.5 billion users around the add coming weeks.

Use of video calls and conferencing has rocketed as people work, learn, and socialize remotely while staying home to avoid the coronavirus.

Many people have turned to Zoom, which has scrambled to stem security problems like data hacking and harassment by individuals who crash sessions in what’s noted as “Zoombombing.”

Video “presence” services from Facebook, Google, Microsoft and other technology firms are ramping up capabilities and features to be the well-liked platform.

“Through this era, people are wishing on social and communication services over ever,” Zuckerberg said.

WhatsApp upgrade

Facebook plans to feature ways to form “rooms” from its Instagram and WhatsApp messaging platforms moreover as using its Portal smart screens.

Facebook is additionally doubling the number of individuals who can simultaneously participate in WhatsApp video calls to eight.

Increasing video chat group size at WhatsApp is more technically challenging because calls are encrypted end-to-end, in step with Zuckerberg.

In a more intimate direction, Facebook´s dating service will add a choice to invite people on virtual dates using Messenger video chat.

Facebook also expanded live streaming features at the social network and Instagram as people increasingly go browsing for cooking lessons, religious services, exercise classes, and more.

The social network is adding the simplest way for a host of live online events to permit performers to charge admission fees.

“Our hope is that by making it so you’ll charge a fee it’ll help support creators and services that depend upon in-person appearances,” Zuckerberg said.