Facebook is plotting the return of chat rooms

The public group chat feature called "Rooms" is already available in select countries.

Meryl D'Souza November 21, 2016

Remember back in the day when you rocked a mullet and thought fanny packs were cool? Well, the guys over at Facebook sure do. They want all of us to go back to the times when chat rooms were a thing.

For those of you scratching your heads wondering what on Earth we’re talking about, this was back when the internet was just a nascent little thing. Depending on who you talk to, chat rooms were either the social media of that time or an indulgent hobby for people who had no social life.

It was a space on the internet where one could talk to strangers usually relating to a specific topic, and then log out. It was meant to be a place where people could have meaningful discussions based on the room they chose – rooms were divided by various genres – but ultimately ended up being a Tinder of sorts, and sometimes something more malicious.

Facebook, fresh from hitting more than one billion monthly users, is hoping to bring back this online stranger-interaction as a new feature of its Messenger app. The writing has been on the wall ever since Chris Messina discovered hidden code in the Messenger app that referenced the same back in September.

The hidden text found in the code described the feature as: “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.”

We imagine that users will also be allowed to create their own Rooms using the Messenger app and will be able to set Rooms to private, and only allow those to join when they are approved by an administrator.

The new feature is only out in select markets – Canada and Australia – as of right now. According to Techcrunch, Facebook said Rooms was a small test but offered no further comment.