April 25 (UPI) — Facebook on Friday introduced a new video call system that will allow users and non-users alike to take part in group video chats with up to 50 people.
The social media company calls the new service Messenger Rooms.
Users can create or join a video chat room from their smartphones or desktop computers. Those who create a room can choose who can see it and join it, and can lock a room to prevent others from joining.
People without Facebook accounts can also join a Messenger Room.
“You don’t need to call someone and hope it’s a good time or check everyone’s calendar first,” Facebook said in a blog post. “You can start and share rooms on Facebook through News Feed, Groups and Events, so it’s easy for people to drop by.”
Facebook said it’s also planning to add ways to create rooms in Instagram Direct, WhatsApp and Portal.
Users with the Messenger app can incorporate augmented reality effects, such 360 backgrounds, mood lighting and bunny ear filters.
Facebook said Messenger Rooms will debut in some countries this week and expand globally in the weeks to come.
Group video chats have become increasingly popular in recent weeks amid coronavirus social distancing guidelines, with services such as Zoom seeing a marked increase in use.