Facebook introduces anonymous chat app 'Rooms'

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Facebook is taking a stab at anonymous group messaging with its latest app "Rooms," which combines the idea of traditional chatrooms with modern smartphone conveniences.

Designed by Facebook Creative Labs, Rooms is different from other popular anonymous app like Secret and Whisper in that it fosters group discussion, not one-time posts.

Users can start an anonymous room, customize its look with colors, backgrounds, pictures and more, then open it up to others using the app. There is also an option for making the room invite-only, a kind of private anonymous group chat. For convenience, the app generates QR code invitations for posting on social media.

In many ways, the app is simply an anonymous message board, complete with moderators (room creators) who have the ability to review posts prior to publishing, ban users and create age limits. Facebook also applies its own familiar set of rules like flagging posts to be reviewed by the app's staff, who can shut down entire threads if warranted.

In an interview with Re/code, product manager Josh Miller said he envisions Rooms to be a platform, a bit like WordPress for chat rooms.

Users are not required to sign in with a real name, but they do have to register a valid email address. Chat text is also stored on Facebook's servers, though only for purposes of backing up accounts. In theory, if a user enters the same email address for both Facebook and Rooms, chatroom scripts could be linked to real-name accounts, but this is not the company's intention, Miller said.

Rooms is available now as a free 16.5MB download from the App Store.