Facebook wants us to get 'Rooms'— to stay anonymous

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Facebook Creative Labs has launched a standalone app, for you to create a (chat) room for whatever you're into. The new anonymous app lets you keep up with your unique obsessions and unconventional hobbies, personal finance talks and health-related discussions – you can celebrate the sides of yourself that you don’t always show to your friends.

This is not the first attempt by the social networking giant to imitate and piggyback on successful apps trend. Previously they’ve dabbled with ‘Poke’ and ‘Slingshot’ which is ephemeral messaging app much similar to Snapchat.

Currently Facebook is testing the waters in the anonymous messaging app space. Rooms is an iOS first app, meant to liberate your voices by breaking away from the constraints of Facebook’s own real name policy (An attempt of self-disruption?).

With Rooms, Facebook is trying to re-imagine the serendipity of early days of the web to the mobile platform era. Facebook says,

“As we spend more time on our phones, primarily to communicate with friends and family, the role of the internet as a “third place” has begun to fade.”

In the early days of the web, people used internet to hangout at forums, message boards and IRC chatrooms as public square to meet different sort of people who we generally can’t meet. Now Facebook wants us to use Rooms to meet strangers but with whom we have something in common even if we are separated by 4.2 degrees.

 

You can create a chat room with any topic. The rooms are invite-only where it requires uses to scan QR code or take a picture of it to get a passport and join.

The official blog highlights,

“That’s why in Rooms you can be “Wonder Woman” – or whatever name makes you feel most comfortable and proud. You can even create different identities for different contexts. In my room for technology industry discussions I am “Josh” but in another about backpacking travel I am “jm90403” – a homage to my hometown zip code. Sometimes I want to go with my real name and sometimes I prefer a nickname. It depends.”

 

Facebook has refrained from making you sign-in with your Facebook ID credentials. The app is branded as a stand alone app. But the app still requires you to sign in with you real name, to stay true for Facebook’s real name policy.

Facebook Product Manager Josh Miller says,

“Rooms does not track user locations. Messages are stored on Facebook servers, so if you give Rooms the same email you use for your Facebook account, it would make sense that the company could match your posts to your Facebook identity.”

One of the coolest things about the internet is its potential to let you choose our digital personas and be whoever you want to be. Irrespective of where you live, what you look like or how old you are – all of us are the same size and shape online. But with the advent of social media and proliferation of Whatsapp like apps that uses our contact list, our identities became similar in every platform. If Rooms app get traction and a network effect to make it useful enough; it’ll be a great way to address identity issue. Surely Facebook has to work whole lot on privacy, bullying issues front. (have you read Let me share a secret?)

Today, looks like the Silicon Valley giants are celebrating Diwali in a style by an app dhamaka. Twitter announced Fabric, Google launched Inbox. Now facebook is at it with Rooms. Who is next?

You can download the app from App Store Rooms for iPhone

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