Facebook Messenger public chats arrive in two countries

Just don't expect these Rooms in the US for a while.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Facebook's plan to revive its public group chat feature just became official. The social network tells the Courier Mail that it's rolling out a test version of Messenger Rooms on Android devices in Australia and Canada. As leaked code suggested, this is similar to but not quite like the Rooms app of old. All you have to do is create (or search for) a room around a given topic -- after that, anyone can join. If you're worried that you'll get an influx of trolls, you can require approval for new participants.

It's not certain if and when Rooms will make it to the US, UK and other countries. The Australian and Canadian launches are really about giving Facebook a way to test English-language features with a smaller audience, to make sure they work smoothly and gauge demand for a wider rollout. However, Facebook's public announcement of Rooms suggests that you could see the feature in other regions relatively soon. As it stands, this is a safer investment than the Rooms stand-alone app. Facebook doesn't have to pour as many resources into this as it would dedicated software, and you're more likely to use the feature if it's inside an app you already use.