Facebook launches Rooms, a competitor to Zoom in video chat

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Facebook announced Friday the launch of its new video call application, “Rooms”, which is part of the “Facebook Messenger” service and allows users to host video calls with the participation of up to 50 people, benefiting from the increased demand for video calls during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The “Rooms” application constitutes a threat to the “Zoom” application, which sparked a lot of controversy in the past period because of its increased use significantly as a result of the procedures for isolation because of the Corona pandemic, and due to security problems and the violation of privacy and piracy that the application was subjected to several times.

Features and disadvantages

Rooms, a free Messenger service, will allow users to create group video calls with up to 50 participants, while Messenger video calls are limited to 8 people only.

There is no specific time for video calls in “Rooms”, and the app will also include features like “augmented reality filters” that allow people to add masks to their faces. Chamber hosts will also be able to lock calls and remove users.

Read Also: Google increases the plight of Zoom and uses Facebook’s security manager

Rooms allow Facebook and Messenger users to create multiple calling Rooms, and they can invite anyone to join, including people who don’t have a Facebook account.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC that Rooms users will not be able to initially collect 50 people in one video call, but added that the number will soon reach 50, indicating that the number of participants will vary according to the launch time in each country.

By comparison, Zoom allows up to 100 people to video chat for free for up to 40 minutes.

The “Rooms” application started reaching users on Friday and will reach more areas in the coming weeks.

Facebook users can share links that enable non-users of the social network to join the rooms via a web browser on both the desktop and mobile, which means that there is no need to download the application or create an account as is the case in other services.

Messenger Chairman Stan Chudnovsky told Reuters that the “Rooms” application was scheduled to be launched in the third and fourth quarters of this year, but Facebook accelerated its plans after noting an increase in conference calls due to closures in many countries of the world.

The company said in its statement that there are now over 700 million accounts participant in calls on WhatsApp and Messenger every day.

Rooms focus directly on the consumer market and currently does not support corporate communications, which is the main source of income for most other video conference applications.

Chudnovsky said that Zuckerberg’s plan to expand comprehensive encryption through messaging services would also apply to “Rooms”, which would ensure the privacy and confidentiality of these calls.

Privacy advocates have lauded the coding plan, but have faced stiff resistance in Washington, where lawmakers have warned that it could impede efforts to combat child abuse and other illegal activities.

Rooms take advantage of Zoom’s mistakes
Shares of “Zoom” closed yesterday, 6%, after Facebook announced the launch of its new application for video chats. Some investors see in particular the “Rooms” application as a direct threat to the “Zoom” application.

It appears that Facebook wants its “Rooms” launch to distinguish itself by maintaining privacy and security during video calls, features that appear to be inspired by “Zoom” errors.

The room’s creator in the Rooms app can control who enters and closes the room to prevent strangers from joining it, in order to avoid intruders entering video meetings, which is what happened with the Zoom app and is known as “Zoom bombing.”

The company says that the new application will only require a name for users who join conference rooms and do not have Facebook accounts, only for the purpose of introducing them to other room members.

Facebook will also make room links “difficult for hackers to guess”, a problem Zoom had in its early pandemic. The company also claims that it will not use any sound or video from the rooms in any ads.

With this launch, Facebook joins a large group of companies racing to dominate the video meeting market, as millions of people locked into their homes around the world suddenly rely on these tools for work, school, and social life.