As working from home and social distancing become the new normal, we’ve gotten very familiar with Zoom video conferencing as the new way to hold meetings. You can video chat with your team from wherever you choose, host web conferences and distance learning classes, change your background for Hawaiian themed meetings, and even host virtual town halls. With the rising popularity of video conferencing platforms during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, it’s no surprise a major player like Facebook decided to get in on the action. 

Last week, Facebook introduced Messenger Rooms, with the goal of making “real-time feel real.” The company said it saw a significant increase in video calls being made on Messenger and WhatsApp, as well as a spike in views of Facebook Live and Instagram Live videos in March. Now, Messenger Rooms will make it even easier to virtually connect with others and host events remotely. 

So what’s the difference between the two?

Zoom Video Conferencing: 

  1. Zoom offers four levels of video conferencing plans, Basic, Pro, Business, and Enterprise, with additional features for each level.
  2. Users may chat for 40 minutes for free with small groups. The highest level plan, Enterprise, allows up to 1,000 attendees.
  3. Multiple business features are available, such as simultaneous screen share, recording for later use, and chats to ask questions.
  4. Zoom meetings may be open or locked and require a password. Additionally, they are end-to-end encrypted for an added layer of security.
  5. Participants must have a link and a Zoom Meeting ID to enter the chat. Once individuals are in the Zoom chat, they can change their background and touch up their appearance. 

Facebook Messenger Rooms:

  1. Room creators can invite up to 50 people to chat for an unlimited amount of time. Friends or colleagues can still join a room even if they don’t have a Facebook account. For those who do, there’s no need to download a separate app.
  2. A room can be created in either Facebook Messenger or the Facebook app itself (the next roll out will include Room options for Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Portal) and can be open or locked to include only certain people.
  3. There is no access code or set scheduled time to be able to access a room. Once it is created, it is available to all members for use.
  4. Room members can experiment with Facebook’s augmented reality filters and virtual backgrounds.
  5. Room calls are not end-to-end encrypted, but Facebook says it will not view or listen to the calls. Moderators can remove members for any malicious content shared, and rooms are not searchable by name on the app.

In the race to provide a way to stay connected while apart, it appears that for now the two platforms still provide very different features. Zoom remains the better solution for business video conferencing needs, while groups looking to host virtual happy hours and social activities from afar should give Messenger Rooms a shot.