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What are Facebook’s ‘Rooms’?

Facebook roomsFacebook recently released their latest app ‘Rooms’ which looks to connect users of similar interests together and allow anonymous discussion similar to the chat rooms of the early days of the internet.

Rooms support photos, videos and discussion and the app works on an invite basis which can be generated with a QR code style image that you can screenshot on your phone for later use when joining a Room.

One of the apps unique features is how it allows anonymity which takes a step back from typical modern social connections which are based on the people you know, and just lets users connect with other people strictly based on interests irrespective of age or location. Users are able to create different usernames based on which room they are in allowing for users to make subject-specific names that describe the side of them most applicable to the Room’s subject or theme.

However, the app has been having a few issues just days after its release with possible hacks, but the reaction from most seems to be pretty positive on iOS devices. There is no date set for an android release but we can expect one sometime in the near future if similar apps are anything to go by.

Is it really needed with forums and countless other social networks?

Even though the app has received many positive reviews on the appstore, many are asking the question – do we really need another social network? Facebook pages can be a place to discuss your interests based on what the page may be about so that already provides a place for discussion. Even so, Facebook’s new Rooms app has generated a lot of interest so far.

As well as the positive, there will inevitably be negatives with the app. It is easy to imagine the system being abused by internet trolls that use anonymity to hate on particular subjects and leave hateful comments so a strong moderation function would be needed to keep discussions and comments being relevant to the Room.

Even though many solutions already exist to discuss users interests, I think that as this is made for mobile devices, it provides an easy-to-use interface and environment for discussion that platform. In my opinion, the QR code screenshot feature feels kind of clunky and a none-elegant solution to accepting an ‘invite’ but for those familiar with taking screenshots on their device and browsing their image gallery, it’s not too much of an issue albeit a gimmicky solution.

It also currently seems like a bit of a gimmick to restore a similar service to what existed back in the days of Yahoo Chat and MSN with anonymous chat rooms being the norm. Times have changed however and it will be interesting to see if there is still an audience for this type of service now we have the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to express ourselves and discuss our interests with like-minded users.

Potential business use

It’s definitely possible for businesses to utilise ‘Rooms’ to create discussions and conversations about products and services and connect with customers.  For example, if you are a mailing company, you could create a room showing the process for mail and the process that is involved. A gym could use it to discuss diet and exercise techniques with their members; the members could post their workout routine and receive feedback from the gym on their form and if they are eating the fight type of food for example.

Have you tried Rooms? What are your thoughts? Please let us know in the comments below.

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