Facebook announced on Thursday (July 23) that users of its Messenger Rooms group video feature can now live-broadcast those meetings to traditional Facebook pages. The feature should make it easier to invite people to join online group video chats than has been the case with Facebook and rival video-chat services to date.
The free service has no time limit for meetings, distinguishing it from the offerings currently available from Zoom, which has surged in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Turning your room into a Facebook Live broadcast makes it easy to go live with up to 50 people," Facebook said in its blog post on Thursday. "Whether you’re hosting a book club with friends, interviewing a panel of experts, teaching a fitness class or broadcasting with your friends for fun, going live from a room lets you have more interactive broadcasts with audiences of any size."
Facebook Live traffic is twice what it was a year ago, the company said. "From artists raising money for efforts they care about and local zoos hosting daily safari adventures, to congregations coming together for worship and couples exchanging vows, people are finding creative ways to connect through Facebook Live."
The new Facebook offering includes features to help hosts of Messenger Rooms fend off hostile intruders, a problem that has particularly afflicted Zoom users.
"As a room creator, you can broadcast your room to a Profile, Page or Group, and invite people to tune in. By bringing Messenger Rooms and Facebook Live together, we’re unlocking new ways for people to connect and create content even while they’re apart," Facebook said. "The room creator controls the live broadcast, including where the room is shared on Facebook, who can view the broadcast and who’s invited to participate. All the room participants will receive a notification inviting them to join the live broadcast and will have to opt-in to participate. They can also choose to leave the room before it goes live."
Facebook introduced Messenger Rooms in late April.