Since Mark Zuckerberg cannot stand seeing another tech company enjoy major growth, Facebook is Zoom-bombing the current reigning champion of video conference platforms.
Facebook has plenty on its plate right now, what with its workforce stuck at home and leaving content moderation to computers, the 2020 election meddling ramping up, and of course, coronavirus misinformation running wild on the platform. (NBC News reports of an Ohio man whose Facebook posts calling COVID-19 a “political ploy” and “bullsh*t” are going viral, even though that man is now dead from COVID-19.) But despite the obvious and seriously scary nature of those threats, nothing on earth bothers Mark Zuckerberg more than seeing another tech company experiencing better growth and publicity than Facebook. So that end, KGO reports that Facebook is launching a video conferencing platform, an obvious copycat of the newly popular Zoom.
This development may be related to the fact that Zoom stopped sharing user data with Facebook after a Vice report busted them doing so.
Introducing Messenger Rooms, group video calls that you can start and share via @messenger @facebookapp and soon @instagram @whatsapp and @portalfacebook. We're testing Rooms in a few countries now and plan to roll it out globally in the coming weeks. pic.twitter.com/kQWb2nbPzY— Facebook (@Facebook) April 24, 2020
Facebook is calling this feature “Messenger Rooms,” part of their on-again, off-again stance on whether to use the word “Facebook” in their product naming conventions. Though interestingly, they borrow Zoom’s “room” terminology here. In an announcement last Friday Facebook seemed to be stressing that their product would be protected from Zoom-bombing type incidents.
“When you’re invited to a room, you can join from your phone or computer — no need to download anything to get started,” the announcement said. “When you create a room, you choose who can see and join it. You can remove people from the call and lock a room if you don’t want anyone else to enter.”
But from the looks of the above screenshot, it does appear that Facebook will announce to the world whenever you have a video meetup in progress. So any potential bombers may be made aware of a target.
And the privacy shortcomings are already being reported, even though the product is not yet available to most Facebook users. Forbes points out that your unencrypted calls will be shared with third-party marketing firms (or worse). “Privacy settings on Facebook don’t protect data from Facebook, or its partners’ exploitation of the data,” privacy expert Rowenna Fielding told Forbes. “Data mining and profiling are the core of their business model – governance and ethics have been notably absent from the start and continue to be so.”
Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that “Everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.” That quip from 1990 describes Facebook core philosophies these days. Just a few months ago, Zuckerberg’s primary obsession was a new cryptocurrency product. But now there’s a new shiny thing for the boy-king, and clearly one rolled out pretty quickly. We’ll see how many things get broken by these fast moves.
Image: Facebook via Twitter