Facebook is here to take care of all the 90s nostalgics with the release of a new feature app called Facebook Rooms. Hopefully we all know it’s now 2014, not 1993, and times have changed. But this app defies time barriers. It’s sort of like the chat rooms of days gone by, but with a social media twist the company hopes will attract its members to interact with the brand more through a mobile app.
Facebook product manager Josh Miller announced the new twist on an old innovation in a blog post. He pointed to what he called “one of the magical things” about the early days of the Web: connecting to people you might never run into in your everyday life. “Inspired by both the ethos of these early Web communities and the capabilities of modern smartphones, today we’re announcing Rooms, the latest app from Facebook Creative Labs,” Miller said. “Rooms lets you create places for the things you’re into, and invite others who are into them, too.”
Rooms is Facebook’s first product that allows you to hide your real name. Rooms lets you set up a mobile-only in-app discussion space about any topic, customize the look and moderation settings, set a screen name for the room, and choose who to invite to share text, photos, videos, and comments with others in the Room. It’s a bit like forums inside an Instagram-style vertical feed. Rooms doesn’t require a Facebook account or even an email address to sign up. It employs an innovative QR-code invite system where people take a photo or screenshot of a Room’s code to gain entry.
The software introduced in the US and Britain for iPhone made its debut as Facebook tries to make peace with people unhappy that real identities are mandated for profiles at the world’s leading social network. “One of the things our team loves most about the Internet is its potential to let us be whoever we want to be,” said a blog post from Facebook’s Creative Labs.
“That’s why in Rooms you can be ‘Wonder Woman’ – or whatever name makes you feel most comfortable and proud.”
Room links are shared by QR code. For instance if someone shares the QR code more widely, on Twitter or even on Facebook, then a room can attract a wide audience and become a major chattering hub. If the codes are kept private, then your book club can theoretically use the room without any random strangers jumping in.
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