Facebook recently launched a new app called Rooms, a space inspired by throwback old fashioned forums, message boards and chatrooms that were popular during the early days of the Internet. Essentially, it’s a publishing tool that gives moderators more control over everything, from choosing the appearance of the discussion space or “Room” and determining who gets to join it.
While the app is based on late ’90s Internet tools, it’s been rebooted to serve today’s audience. Instead of just hosting long forum posts, the Rooms app is ideal for sharing photos and videos. It’s like a mash-up between Instagram and old-style college message boards.
On Rooms, users can create a room with any theme, from skydiving to needlepoint. Moderators can choose whether to invite a select group of people or just post the invite to their social network accounts to make it public. The chats are invite-only, and users can join a new room by using a circular QR code that existing Room members can pass along by posting it online anywhere or even as a printed photo offline. People can join the room by taking a photo or a screen shot of the code, which will be recognized by the app.
Of course, there are issues with anonymous apps; Facebook will have to monitor user safety in an environment where people can hide behind whatever username they choose. The app includes moderation tools, like the ability for room creators to review posts before they’re published, or set an 18-and-over age limit. Users can also flag inappropriate content which is then transferred to a team of human moderators at the ready 24 hours a day.
Rooms is the latest standalone app to emerge from Facebook Creative Labs, the initiative within the company to build more standalone apps under the broader Facebook umbrella.