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Facebook launches free video call with up to 50 persons

Facebook recently unveiled its response to the crazy growth of Zoom over the past few weeks of the COVID-19 and the lockdowns happening worldwide. Facebook Messenger which already had video chat functionality was limited both in the total number of people allowed to participate, and in its requirement that users must have a Facebook account.

With the new Messenger rooms, that changes everything, First, you can host video chats of up to 50 people, and those who don’t have a Facebook account can still join – they’ll receive a link to the Room you have created and with one click they can then join the conversation – just like with Zoom. Importantly, Messenger rooms has no time limit whatsoever.

If you join a room through the Messenger app, then you can play with AR effects and new features like immersive backgrounds, mood lighting among others. The creator of a room chooses who can see and join it, and can remove anyone from the call at any time, as well as lock the room if they don’t want anyone else to enter. And you can of course leave a room whenever you want. Rooms you create through a Facebook Group are open by default to members of that group.

The rooms feature is not end-to-end encrypted, because “there are significant challenges” to providing such encryption for video calling with large groups of people. However, Facebook says it’s actively working towards it. In the meantime, room content is encrypted between participants and the Facebook servers, that are “placed in only a handful of countries that have strong rule of law”. The company also promises that it doesn’t watch or listen to your audio or video calls. Messenger rooms is rolling out “in some countries” and will expand globally in coming weeks. So get online and stay hooked with friends and loved ones.


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