Facebook has launched Messenger Rooms, its newest video conferencing feature that allows video chats with up to 50 people at the same time. There’s no limit to how long you can talk, and you don’t even need a Facebook account to join a room.
Note that calls to Rooms, such as Zoom calls, are not end-to-end encrypted. Also, as long as you don’t change your preferences when creating your search, the room will be open to anyone who is your friend on Facebook; not only do they join your room, they see it at the top of their News Feed. And finally, the process can be a little confusing.
We’ll show you how to make a room and how to determine who can see and join your room.
Create a Room using Facebook on your desktop
The process of creating a room is a bit long, but there is also a shorter (albeit less detailed) method that we will explain later in the article. We’ll explain the longer method first:
- At the top of your News Feed, you’ll see a section called “Rooms”. You can click “Create” in the top right corner of that bar or click the bubble with your profile picture and plus sign to start your room. (Note: After interacting with this bar, it can expand to be a series of rectangular tiles. You can click the “Create” button on your own tile to create a room.) A window will open giving you a few options. .
- The first “Room activity” lets you set a purpose for the room, such as “Hang out”, “Home Boredom” or “Coffee Chat”.
- “Who was invited?” Click . to set who can join the room. You will get two options. The first is “Friends”, which automatically allows anyone on your Facebook friends list to see your room at the top of their News Feed and join if they want to. Second, “Invite Specific Friends” allows you to select specific friends who can see and join your room. If you select “Invite Specific Friends” and then click “Invite Friends”, you will get a list of your Facebook friends; Choose the ones you want to invite. If you then click the “Skip” button, you will be asked if you want the option to allow others to join the room using a link. Click “Open” to enable it. (The actual link will be given to you later.)
- The third option in the “Create Your Room” window is “Start time”, which allows you to plan the room later.
- After you’re done setting your preferences, click “Create Room” at the bottom of the “Create Your Room” window.
- You will see a popup with the option to invite people, share, edit or end the room. There will also be a link you can send to others to allow them to join the room. Click the “Join” button at the bottom to enter your room.
- You will then be taken to another window. Click the “Join as” button to enter the room. Your friends will not be able to join the room until you do.
- You’re finally in the room! You will see a group of buttons at the bottom of your screen. From left to right, these let you share your screen, see who’s on a call, turn your video on or off, turn your microphone on or off, or mute the call. If there are three or more people in the conversation, you’ll see a button in the top-right corner that lets you tile the participants or just see who’s speaking.
- Messenger Rooms has no chat functionality. If you hover over the tiles of the participants, you should see a bar with their names in it. Click the three dots next to their name to see the drop-down options, including the ability to remove contacts. If a participant joined using their Facebook account, you’ll also see the option to view their profile or message them. The messaging option will open Messenger in a separate tab or window.
- If you click on the “See call participants” icon at the bottom of the screen, you will find some additional options. You can prevent others from joining the call by turning on “Lock Room” (if you turn this on, you will have to click “Lock” in another popup). At the bottom of the window, a link will be provided that you can use to invite other people to the room.
- To end the room, click the “Settings” option at the top of this window and select “End Room”. You will be taken to an additional window asking you to confirm that you want to end the room; Click “End Room” in the lower right corner of that window.
Build a desktop room faster with fewer options
There’s also a shortcut you can use to set up a room, though it skips some preferences; for example, you will not be able to schedule a time or select an event status.
- Click “Messenger” in the left sidebar.
- Click the button in the upper left corner that looks like a camera with a plus sign in it.
- You will be taken to the screen that allows you to join the room directly.
To join an existing room
On Facebook, you’ll see available rooms in the “Rooms” section at the top of your Feed. However, you can also join a room via a link, whether you have a Facebook account or not.
- If you click on a link to join a call, you will either see a screen allowing you to join using your Facebook account or be taken to the guest login page. You can join the room as a guest by typing your name on the guest login page, or you can join the room with your Facebook account by clicking the “Login” link in the upper right corner.
Create a room using the mobile Messenger app:
- Open the application.
- Tap “Contacts” in the lower right corner of the screen.
- Tap “Create Room” at the top of the screen.
- If you are creating a room for the first time, you will see the “Try” button at the bottom of the screen that opens. Tap this to bypass the login screen.
- On the next screen, you will be able to set who joins the call. If you tap “Who Can Join” (on iPhone) or “Edit” (on Android), you have two choices: anyone with the link or only Facebook users with the link.
- If there is no one else in the room and you tap the X in the upper right corner, you can decide to end the room immediately (“End Room”) or to be notified when someone leaves and joins (“Leave”). . If you tap “End Room”, you must tap “End Room” in the next window to confirm.
- When your friends join, the room will open. You will see a series of buttons at the bottom of your screen. From left to right, it lets you take a screenshot, control who can access the call, mute or exit the call.
- If you click on the button with the “two people” icon, you can access additional settings for calling. You can toggle the “Lock Room” option to block others from entering the room, copy a link to send it to others, or end the room. Click “Remove” next to each participant’s name to remove them one by one from the room.
Create a room using the mobile Facebook app:
The steps to use Messenger Rooms via the Facebook app are very similar to those for Facebook on desktop:
- Open the app and tap the home button (bottom left corner of screen on iPhone, top left on Android phone).
- Click the “Create Room” button located between the story and status bars at the top of your News Feed.
- You are presented with the same three options as in the desktop app: “Room event”, “Who was invited?” and “Start time.”
- After you set your room preferences, click “Create Room” (on iPhone) or “Next” (on Android phone).
- You will see a screen with options to invite people, share, edit or end your room and copy the link. Click “Join Room” when you’re ready to start chatting.
- You will then be redirected to the Messenger app. The controls for the room are the same, but with one difference: If you tap the X in the upper right corner to leave the room and there’s no one else in the room, the room remains open and Facebook notifies you when someone joins. Tap “Leave” in the pop-up box to continue. To end the call, go back to the Facebook app and click the “End Room” button. If you don’t see the ‘End Room’ button, tap the square representing your room (tap anywhere other than the ‘Join’ button) and then click ‘End Room’.