Make Rooms For Daddy, Facebook’s Back To The Future

Yes, this just might be your Daddy’s old guilty-pleasure resurrected For those who were the early adopters of the Internet, you probably still wax nostalgic over the days of chat rooms. Introduced as ‘Internet Relay Chat’ (IRC) back in 1988 this was the application layer of protocol that facilitated the transfer of plain text messaging back in the day!

It allowed users to connect anonymously across the early Internet, and dissimilar to message boards, IRC did not rely on a website or browser. Instead users installed an app on their computers, such as Microsoft Chat and connected directly to a server.

Flash forward to 2014, and Facebook is hoping to rekindle that zeitgeist by breathing new life back into the glory days of MC, in the form of an iPhone app called “Rooms.”

To join a Room, users are required to scan a 2D barcode, which can be shared publicly or privately to invite a group of people to chat. Moderators of each room can filter content requiring approval to post and can also ban anyone, blocking their device from re-joining. Dissimilar to the original message boards, this is not old “Wild West” of the early Internet. Instead, Facebook’s community standard guidelines will apply, prohibiting abusive behavior and the sharing of certain types of material, like X-rated content.

While an “AGE” requirement is said to be required, it is not verified. Users can easily bypass the age gate by simply tapping the “Yes, I’m over 18” button.

Divorcing itself more and more from Facebook’s core social network, it appears as if FB is trying to recapture some of its younger demographic whose exodus numbers have grown exponentially over the last few years — many of whom are trying out the highly touted new social networks of Ello and Tsu. Other apps that live outside of FB’s ecosystem include ‘Paper’ And ’Slingshot.’

Josh Miller, former chief executive of the discussion site Branch and now Facebook's product manager, acknowledges the debt to older text-based chat systems, saying Rooms was “inspired by both the ethos of these early web communities and the capabilities of modern smartphones.”

Josh MillerJosh MillerIn a blog post, Miller said: “One of the magical things about the early days of the Web was connecting to people who you would never encounter otherwise in your daily life … Forums, message boards and chatrooms were meeting places for people who didn’t necessarily share geographies or social connections, but had something in common.

The free app is iPhone-only at this juncture – currently ranked as two-stars out of five at the App Store – although an Android Rooms app is planned for early 2015. So, Readers, has Rooms tickled your funny bone enough to get you to give it a try, or is this just a flawed attempt at romancing you back to the future?