Facebook has launched its latest videoconferencing feature, Messenger Rooms, which allows up to 50 people to video chat at a time. There’s no limit to how long you can talk, and you don’t even need a Facebook account to join a room.
Be aware that calls on Rooms, like Zoom calls, are not end-to-end encrypted. Also, when creating your call, unless you adjust your preferences, the room will be open to anyone you’re friends with on Facebook; not only can they join your room, they’ll see it at the top of their News Feed. And finally — the process can be a bit confusing.
We’ll show you how to make a room, and how to specify who can see and join your room.
Create a Room using Facebook on your desktop
The process for creating a room is somewhat lengthy, but there is also a shorter (if less detailed) method, which we’ll 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 either “Create” in the top right corner of that bar or click on the bubble with your profile picture and a plus sign to start your room. (Note: After you interact with this bar, it may expand to become a series of rectangular tiles. You can click the “Create” button within your own tile to make a room.) A window will pop up, giving you a few options.
- The first “Room activity” lets you designate a purpose for the room, such as “Hanging Out,” “Bored at Home,” or “Coffee Chat.”
- Click on “Who is invited?” to adjust who can join the room. You’ll get two options. The first, “Friends,” automatically lets anyone in your Facebook friends list see your room at the top of their News Feed and join if they wish. The second, “Invite Specific Friends,” lets you select specific friends who can see and join your room. If you opt for “Invite Specific Friends” and then click on “Invite Friends,” you’ll get a list of your Facebook friends; choose the ones you want to invite. If you then click on the “Skip” button, you’ll be asked if you want the option to allow others to join the room using a link. Click “Turn On” to enable this. (You’ll be given the actual link later.)
- The third option in the “Create Your Room” window is “Start time,” which allows you to schedule the room for later.
- Once you’re done setting your preferences, click “Create Room” at the bottom of the “Create Your Room” window.
- You’ll get a pop-up window with the option to invite people, share, edit, or end the room. There will also be a link you can send to others to let them join the room. Click “Join” at the bottom to enter your room.
- You’ll then be taken to another window. Click the “Join as” button to enter the room. Your friends won’t be able to join the room until you do.
- You’re finally in the room! You’ll see a group of buttons on the bottom of your screen. From left to right these allow you to share your screen, see who’s on the call, toggle your video on or off, turn your microphone on or off, or hang up the call. If you have three or more people on the call, you’ll see a button in the top right corner which lets you tile the participants or only see who’s talking.
- Messenger Rooms does not have a chat function. If you hover over the participants’ tiles, you should see a bar with their name in it. Click the three dots next to their name to see the drop-down options, including the ability to remove people. If a participant joined using their Facebook account, you’ll also see the option to view their profile or to send them a message. The messaging option will open up Messenger in a separate tab or window.
- If you click on the “See call participants” icon at the bottom of the screen, you’ll find some additional options. You can prevent others from joining the call by toggling on “Lock Room” (if you toggle this on, you’ll then have to click “Lock” in another pop-up window). At the bottom of the window, you’ll be provided with the link you can use to invite additional people to the room.
- To end the room, click the “Settings” option at the top of this window, and select “End Room.” You’ll be taken to an additional window asking you to confirm that you want to end the room; click “End Room” in the bottom right corner of that window.
Create a desktop room faster, with fewer options
There is also a shortcut you can use to set up a room, although it bypasses some of the preferences — for example, you won’t be able to schedule a time or choose an activity status.
- Click “Messenger” in the sidebar on the left.
- Click on the button in the top left corner which looks like a camera with a plus sign in it.
- You’ll be taken straight to the screen which lets you join the room.
To join an existing room
In Facebook, you’ll see any available rooms in the “Rooms” section at the top of your Feed. However, you can also join a room via a link, whether or not you have a Facebook account.
- 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 you’ll be taken to the guest login page. On the guest login page, you can enter in your name and join as a guest, or you can join the room with your Facebook account by clicking on the “Login” link in the top right corner.
Create a room using the mobile Messenger app:
- Open the app.
- Tap “People” near the bottom right corner of the screen.
- Tap “Create a Room” at the top of the screen.
- If this is the first time you’re creating a room, you’ll get a “Try it” button at the bottom of the screen that opens up. Tap it to get past the introductory screen.
- On the next screen, you’ll be able to adjust who gets to join the call. If you tap “Who Can Join” (on an iPhone) or “Edit” (on an Android) you’ll get two options: anyone who has the link or only Facebook users with the link.
- If no one else is in the room and you tap the X in the top right corner, you can decide whether to end the room immediately (“End Room”) or to leave the room but get notified when someone joins (“Leave”). If you tap “End Room,” you’ll have to tap “End Room” in the next window to confirm.
- Once your friends join, the room will open. You’ll see a set of buttons on the bottom of your screen. From left to right, they allow you to take a screenshot, control who has access to the call, turn your audio on or off, or leave the call.
- If you click on the button with the “two people” icon, you’ll be able to access additional settings for the call. You can toggle on “Lock Room” to stop others from entering the room, copy a link to send to others, or end the room. To remove participants from the room individually, click “Remove” next to their names.
Create a room using the mobile Facebook app:
The steps for using Messenger Rooms via the Facebook app are very similar to those for Facebook on desktop:
- Open the app and tap on the home button (in the bottom left corner of the screen on an iPhone, in the top left on an Android phone).
- Click the “Create Room” button, located between the story and status bars at the top of your News Feed.
- You’ll be given the same three options as in the desktop app: “Room activity,” “Who is invited?” and “Start time.”
- After setting your preferences for the room, click “Create Room” (on an iPhone) or “Next” (on an Android phone).
- You’ll get a screen with options to invite people, share, edit, or end your room, and to copy the link. Click “Join Room” when you’re ready to start chatting.
- You’ll then be taken to the Messenger app. The controls for the room are the same but with one difference: if you tap the X in the top right corner to exit the room and no one else is in the room, the room will still remain open and Facebook will notify 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 showing your room (tap anywhere outside of the “Join” button) and then click on “End Room.”