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Facebook has unveiled a new mobile app for iOS users called Rooms. A product of Facebook’s Creative Labs, the app allows people to create small “message boards” to discuss any topic they want with virtually anyone.
Each Room creator is in charge of everything, from the color of the room to assigning moderators, pinning posts, setting age restrictions and even laying out some ground rules. The Verge likens it to Reddit but without the ranking system.
While it’s a product of Facebook, Rooms has nothing to do with Facebook or your Facebook friends – it’s a completely independent entity.
Rooms product manager Josh Miller said the service is a throwback to the early days of the web, a time when people were drawn to message boards and chat rooms to discuss common interests with people they didn’t know in real life.
Of course, forums still exist today but not in the same capacity and with the same following that they used to have. Because they were around before mobile devices, they aren’t exactly tailor-made for our phones.
Another similarity to forums is the fact that people in Rooms will use pseudonyms (a different one for each room) instead of their real names. It’s a major shift in strategy for Facebook although not entirely surprising considering the real-names controversy the social network was recently involved in.
Miller joined Facebook earlier this year when his startup, Branch, was acquired by the social networking giant. As it turns out, Rooms is the project that Miller was rumored to be working on earlier this month although it’s not exactly the Snapchat-like program most expected.
Rooms is a fascinating product that has a ton of potential and the brand recognition to back it up. It’s the forum for the smartphone era.