Is Facebook plotting the return of the chatroom via Messenger?

Saqib Shah
Is Facebook plotting the return of the chatroom via Messenger?
Facebook may be prepping to take us all back to the '90s. The social network is testing a Messenger feature that sounds an awful lot like a chatroom, with further similarities to the company's short-lived Rooms app.

Remember chatrooms? Those strange yet alluring social spaces that were all the rage in the ’90s before the likes of Facebook and Google gobbled up the internet. They even helped everyone’s favorite on-screen couple, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, hook up in You’ve Got Mail, Nora Ephron’s paean to the early days of the web.

If it’s up to Facebook, we could all be about to relive the glory days of chatrooms without even having to use a computer. The social network is currently testing a public chat room feature within its Messenger app, according to TechCrunch.

Developer Chris Messina first spotted the feature known as “Rooms” tucked away within the Messenger app’s code. It reportedly allows users of Facebook’s popular messaging service to create rooms based around specific topics and interests. Each room has its own unique link that can then be shared in order for others to join the conversation.

Related: Facebook testing Messenger feature that could signal the end of friend requests

Facebook’s flagship platform already offers the ability to create public and private groups, but Messenger has thus far remained a space for private conversations between friends. As usual, Facebook is keeping quiet on the feature whilst it is in its test phase, meaning we can’t say for sure if it will ever see the light of day.

You may remember chatrooms, but one thing you’ll likely not recall is Facebook’s short-lived Rooms app. Aside from sharing the same name, the new public chatroom feature also borrows a few other ideas from the now-defunct app. Launched in 2014, and killed off late last year, the Rooms app allowed users to create groups that they could then invite others to join with QR code invitations. The idea held potential — maybe it just needed an existing audience to help popularize it.