Science & Technology

Facebook takes on Zoom with new videoconference service

San Francisco, Apr 24 (efe-epa).- Facebook launched Friday a new videoconference service, Messenger Rooms, clearly aimed at challenging Zoom in a market segment that has exploded thanks to the social distancing imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

While Facebook’s existing Messenger tool can accommodate video-calls involving up to eight people, a call via Messenger Rooms will be able to include a maximum of 50 participants, the company said.

As is the case with Zoom, a Messenger Rooms user can invite others to join a call through a link that can be shared with both computers and mobile devices, without those guests’ needing to download an app or create their own Facebook accounts.

The new service is free, sets no time limits on videoconferences and offers features such as augmented reality and color/image filters.

“Messenger Rooms make it easy to spend quality time with friends, loved ones and people who share your interests. Create a room right from Messenger or Facebook, and invite anyone to join your video call, even if they don’t have a Facebook account. Rooms will soon hold up to 50 people with no time limit,” Facebook said.

Facebook’s announcement comes days after Zoom, which was comparatively little known and rarely used before the coronavirus crisis, reached 300 million users as businesses, schools and other institutions have been forced to adapt to social distancing.

But Zoom’s meteoric rise has been accompanied by complaints about security lapses and the firm’s ostensible lack of respect for users’ privacy.

And the phenomenon known as Zoombombing – uninvited persons disrupting videoconferences, often with obscenities and hate speech – has prompted a number of schools, government entities and firms to abandon Zoom.

“Video presence isn’t a new area for us,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with The Verge. “But it’s an area that we want to go deeper in, and it fits the overall theme, which is that we’re shifting more resources in the company to focus on private communication and private social platforms, rather than just the traditional broader ones.

“So this is a good mix: we’re building tools into Facebook and Instagram that are helping people find smaller groups of people to then go have more intimate connections with, and be able to have private sessions with,” Zuckerberg said. EFE


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