Facebook's Rooms App Will Time-Travel You Back To The Era Of '90s Chat Rooms

Do you have a secret stamp collection (communist-era Russian stamps only) or a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Bob Ross, or maybe you're dying to talk Manga with someone and are too embarrassed to ask your friends? Facebook just launched the perfect app for you. With Facebook's Rooms app, you can create anonymous message boards on any subject your heart desires — and it's totally unassociated with your Facebook profile and friends. Meaning, you can divulge your love of animatronic Christmas robots all you want amongst your own people.

According to the app's creator, Josh Miller, Rooms combines "the ethos of these early web communities and the capabilities of modern smartphones" to recreate a modern message board that brings people together based on specific common interests. It harkens back to those days when people used to excitedly discuss topics on message boards with others they knew nothing about — not their geographic location, mutual friends, or even their identity. The anonymity of these message boards allowed users to feel unjudged and the discussions to flow freely.

Miller explains in a blog post:

One of the things our team loves most about the internet is its potential to let us be whoever we want to be. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you look like or how old you are — all of us are the same size and shape online. This can be liberating.... We want the rooms you create to be freeing in this way. From unique obsessions and unconventional hobbies, to personal finance and health-related issues — you can celebrate the sides of yourself that you don’t always show to your friends.

Here's how it works.

What Creators Can Do

Starting your own room is easy and as a creator, you have a lot of power and flexibility. For example, after choosing your topic, you can customize the look of the room, like changing the text and emoji on the Like button (for example, "Nommed" instead of "Liked"), creating custom "pinned" messages, and adding a cover photo. You can also customize permission settings, set moderators, establish ground rules for members, and set age restrictions. If someone disregards your rules or behaves badly, you can boot them.

What Users Can Do

If you just want to join an already created room — or rooms — you can choose a different nickname for each one, to maintain anonymity on each message board. Then discuss away! Currently, some existent boards include Backpack Diaries (about traveling), Kicks From Above (pics of interesting shoes in interesting places), and Noms From Above (same thing but with food).

How to Join

Right now, the only way to join a room is to be invited, which can be done in two different ways. The first way is for a room creator to tap "Invite," which generates a QR code. The creator then texts the code to whoever is requesting to join. That person must save the image to their camera roll and when they open Rooms, they'll be automatically added to that specific room.

The other way to snatch an invitation is to take a picture of a QR code you find organically. Miller hopes that room creators will post their QR code invitations on social media and even print them out and post them in public spaces to encourage more members to join— kind of like an old-school flyer.Images: Facebook Rooms