Facebook Launches Private “Rooms” App

facebook_roomsThis week, Facebook officially launched Rooms, a new private conversation app that has been in the works for a while. However, the way the app turned out has taken many by surprise.

The app lets users create, join or contribute to discussion boards, similar to popular online forum site Reddit. What’s important, however, especially given Facebook’s stance on making users identify by their real names, is the fact that the app allows its users to go by pseudonyms. You can sign in to the app using any username you want, and can even switch usernames from board to board. The app doesn’t even require a user’s personal information for them to sign up. Despite being designed as a message board for Facebook users to meet one another and discuss common interests, the app will also include functionalities similar to Instagram, like photo and video sharing.

Though Facebook used to be opposed to anonymous conversation, it seems the site has reversed its course in a big way. With text messaging apps on the rise (Facebook itself bought WhatsApp, an extremely popular messaging app, for $21.8 billion), the site can no longer realistically ignore customer demands for privacy. It remains to be seen how Rooms can compete with or distinguish itself from many other similar apps, though it at least shows a willingness on Facebook’s part to experiment with better privacy.