An unnamed source tells TechCrunch that Facebook (FB) is planning to introduce a chat room feature.
The company confirmed that a chat room option is being tested, but did not reveal specifics of the service, which would likely boost its ability to compete with Apple‘s (AAPL) iMessage and Google’s (GOOG) Hangouts. It would also allow Facebook to generate more ad sales from messaging, a service that is viewed as helping to keep users engaged with social media platforms.
Under the feature being developed by Facebook, users can open chat rooms through their Facebook home page status update menus by clicking on a “Host Chat” option. Users can then provide a name for the chat room and list other users who are invited to join in the discussion. A user’s friends will be alerted to the existence of the chat room through their news feeds and can opt to join in.
Users who host the chat rooms can determine who is allowed to join. It may be possible for friends of a user’s friends to also join the chat, if that is desired.
While Facebook admits that it is testing a chat room feature, it did not indicate when, or if, the service would be deployed for general users.
Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it had streamlined its advertising options, reducing the number of options available to advertisers.
Shares of Facebook slipped slightly in Friday morning trading.