Messenger Rooms is rolling out now and will let you create a video chat room in either the Messenger or Facebook app, adding people as you go. You can then share the link further, and people can join even if they don’t have a Facebook account.
In a live stream announcing Rooms, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Rooms links would work on WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook. Rooms will not have a time limit, and calls can be locked to prevent anyone else entering (this doesn’t stop you leaving).
The functionality and features of Messenger Rooms appear to be an accelerated reaction to the success of both Zoom and Houseparty. But Messenger itself is not end-to-end encrypted, and neither is Rooms, making the solution less privacy focused than Facebook would have you believe.
In a blog post Facebook says that Messenger Rooms was made “with privacy in mind” – but goes on to say that:
“Across our services, we work with outside vendors that help us do things like reviewing and addressing issues reported by users and we may share information with these partners, like the name of a room and who’s in it, in order to do this work … As with other parts of Facebook, we collect data from Rooms regardless of whether you joined through one of our apps or without logging into an account. The main purpose of this data is to provide the service and improve the product experience.”
The ”privacy” Facebook is touting isn’t really privacy, as explored in this Forbes article. The company is still collecting and sharing data with third parties, and both have access to your wider Facebook profile and data.
And despite being able to use Rooms without a Facebook account, the company said “we receive some data such as your device and browser type, your product usage information, and technical information.”