A glance behind Facebook may have revealed an unlaunched feature called Rooms, reminiscent of those notorious public chat rooms of the pre-social nineties and noughties. The hidden feature came to light after developer evangelist Chris Messina discovered that public chats were mentioned inside Messenger’s iOS app code.
TechCrunch have reported that buried deep within Facebook Messenger’s iOS code is an unlaunched feature which allows users to launch chat rooms that can be accessed by both friends and strangers, alongside enhanced sharing capabilities. The report was released following a tip-off by Chris Messina who discovered multiple references to the feature, including a logo and description of the service, found below:
“Rooms are for public conversations about topics and interests. Each room has a link that can be shared so anyone on Messenger can join the conversation.”
Facebook Messenger now tops over one billion monthly users. It is fairly evident that features such as this are intended to bridge the gap for Facebook Groups and the communication channel.
Forums and chatrooms were all the rage in the late nineties and early noughties but went somewhat out of fashion with the development of social networking. Due to the app’s ever-increasing popularity, if the feature is released and accepted by users it could prove a particularly lucrative feature, albeit one that takes inspiration from the vanilla web communication of the past.
This is not the first time that Facebook have experimented with public chatrooms. Back in 2014 a standalone app called Rooms was released. Intended as an entirely separate entity to the social network, Rooms was reportedly inspired by WordPress as a platform for creating public chat forums on specific subjects. However, this gained little traction and, due to a lack of downloads, was discontinued in 2015.
Integrating the feature automatically within Messenger is an ideal way of encouraging interest, should the speculation be true. So far Facebook have only commented saying “We often run small tests- nothing more to share beyond that.”