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Facebook is taking on Zoom. Should you use it?

Zoom’s meteoric rise in popularity during the COVID-19 crisis has been nothing short of remarkable. In just a few short weeks, the video-conferencing service became the go-to app for workers, educators and executives to keep their routines and livelihoods going.

On the other hand, the program has seen its share of criticism from privacy and security watchdogs across the web. With more people using the service than ever, its flaws became all too obvious as call hijackings and problematic settings became headline news. Tap or click here to find out more about Zoombombing.

Many people made the jump to Zoom purely out of name-recognition, but even that might not be enough to save the platform from the biggest competitor of all: Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s empire is here to take on Zoom with a video conferencing app of its own, and it’s bringing several fun new features to the table to secure its total victory.

‘Don’t trust Zoom, trust us instead’ – Facebook, probably

Facebook has officially announced its foray into the world of video conferencing with a new update to its long-running Messenger app. The new feature, dubbed “Messenger Rooms,” allows users to expand their conversation threads into a live video call, and includes a host of other fun features to lure Zoom users away from the rival platform.

Facebook’s new update to Messenger allows users to participate in calls with up to 50 other people in private “rooms.” These rooms can be securely locked by the meeting host, who opens the call and starts up the chat. Calls in messenger have no time limit, and hosts are able to boot and add new members at their leisure.

All users will also have access to fun AR features like the kind found on its sister platform Instagram. They include filters, virtual backgrounds and “masks,” which Facebook says can change the way your face looks.

Compared to Zoom, which boasts paltry, tough-to-figure-out security features and a lack of lighthearted options like filters, Facebook Messenger Rooms sounds infinitely more fun.

But then again, that also means trusting Facebook with your private data again. This time, though, it’s not just you — it’s everyone else in the call, too. Tap or click here to see the data Facebook Messenger keeps asking for.

Other updates and release dates

The mainline Messenger app isn’t the only thing getting an update. WhatsApp, which already features multi-caller video chats, is expanding its user limit from four people to eight. For people who use the app over Facebook and don’t need the extra call volume, it’s a worthwhile addition.

As for when these options will be available for users, it depends on when Facebook gets to your account. The company is rolling out the features to users in waves, and not everyone will get access at the same time. Facebook expects all users to have access to the expanded chat features within the next several weeks.

Additionally, once the features are available, not everyone will have immediate access to the 50 user calls. From the beginning, the limit will be smaller, but will gradually increase to 50 as the feature rolls out to more regions.

If you’re excited to ditch Zoom for this fun alternative, we don’t blame you. Zoom can be tricky to understand, especially compared to similar video conferencing apps. Tap or click here to see the Zoom security settings you need to change.

At the same time, Facebook’s reputation as a data-hungry nightmare is well known and understood. We’d say remain cautiously optimistic for the time being, but don’t be surprised if you start seeing ads related to the things you talked about with your friends in the group calls. Tap or click here to see how Facebook might be listening to you.

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