Modern Day BBS: Facebook 'Rooms' App Lets User Create Discussion Boards, Public Or Private
A couple of weeks ago, we reported on a secret app that Facebook has been working on that would allow people to "poke, stalk, and whine" anonymously. Well, today, the company has taken the veil off of that app, and we can see that the rumors were quite on-the-mark. You will have the ability to remain anonymous with 'Rooms', though that's not really its purpose.
Ultimately, Rooms brings back the magic of Internet forums or BBSes, where communities can congregate and discuss a subject in a far more sane manner than with a Facebook status. I'm sure we've all seen a message on Facebook to the effect of "(Your Friend) commented on this post", only to be unable to find it among the 2,000 other comments. Rooms is going to make things a lot simpler, and it has the added benefit of not being tied to your main Facebook account. To me, that's a major perk - whatever you do in a "room" will be invisible to the rest of your friends.
Anyone is able to create a room and alter a number of different variables, such as its theme and wallpaper, and even its "Like" button. If you create a room dedicated to a certain brewery, for example, you could change the Like button to be a beer mug rather than the iconic white and blue hand.
In the post from a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that you'd be able to choose multiple nicknames to use in the app, and that's proven to be the case. Whenever you sign up for a new room, you'll be given the option to choose any nickname you'd like. This is where the anonymous aspect comes in: You could belong to 10 different rooms, but have a different nickname for each. I'm sure I don't need to get into what kind of behavior this could lead to.
If you're the creator of a room, you'll be able to generate a QR code that can be shared to invite others. How you make use of this is a little different: You simply screenshot it. Once you do, the active Rooms service will spot it in your Camera Roll, and automatically add it to your list.
Facebook is adamant that it hasn't copied "whisper" type apps with Rooms, but it can't be denied that many elements are shared. Rooms does offer some nice customization options though, and a neat way to invite others to your own room. On the surface, it all looks good, but I can't quite shake the bad feelings I have about the app allowing anonymity. It's only a matter of time before we're writing another news story about a pitfall of that mechanic.
Currently, Rooms is only available for iOS. You can grab it here.