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Facebook launches Rooms app for anonymous group chats

Facebook has announced a new standalone chat application for iOS and Android which allows users to create group chats centred around their favourite topics.

The new Rooms app, which is available in the US and the UK from today, allows users to chat anonymously, under a name of their choosing, with other people. Folks can set up their own rooms and join the conversation within others.

The app, which is not part of the main Facebook experience, harkens back to the earlier days of the web where chatrooms were such an integral part of the internet experience.

Individual Rooms are a feed of photos, videos and text that aren’t too dissimilar to the current news feeds, while the Like button can be customised to show and say whatever users want (as shown in the photo above).

Room creators are able to invite who they want to join the room or can make it a complete free for all for everyone using the app, which was first rumoured earlier this month.

(oullquote)The login is separate from the usual Facebook registration experience, allowing Rooms patrons to login with an email address or a pseudonym, thus protecting user anonymity.

In a post on the new Facebook Rooms blog, the company explained the value of allowing people to chat about their own topics without having to reveal their real name to the world.

“One of the things our team loves most about the internet is its potential to let us be whoever we want to be. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you look like or how old you are – all of us are the same size and shape online.,” the firm wrote.

“This can be liberating, but only if we have places that let us break away from the constraints of our everyday selves. We want the rooms you create to be freeing in this way. From unique obsessions and unconventional hobbies, to personal finance and health-related issues – you can celebrate the sides of yourself that you don’t always show to your friends.

“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.”

The launch of the app gives Facebook some protection against recent criticism over its desire for people to use their real name while using the main app. The company offended many in the LGBT community by flagging drag queens using their stage names as fake profiles.

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