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Facebook Launches Messenger Desktop App for Group Video Calls

By Herve Blandin – Apr 2, 2020 at 12:45PM

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The tech giant wants its share in the surge of group communications amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Since many countries have enforced stay-at-home policies to try to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, many companies have posted impressive metrics that highlight the explosive growth of communication services over the last few weeks. For instance, the video communication specialist Zoom Video (ZM -1.18%) revealed that its maximum number of daily meeting participants surged from 10 million in December to 200 million in March.

Facebook (META -0.54%) reported the number of people using their desktop browser for audio and video calling on Messenger has more than doubled last month. This number pales in comparison to Zoom's stellar user growth, but Facebook is trying to fill the gap. The social media giant announced today in a blog post a new Messenger app for MacOS and Windows that includes unlimited and free group video calls. Also, chats will synchronize across the mobile, desktop, and app versions of Messenger.

Woman wearing headphones and participating in a video conference call on a laptop in a cafe.

Image source: Getty Images.

The mobile and browser versions of Messenger already included these group communications capabilities. But the extension of these features to an app will facilitate the adoption of the tool for group video calls by employees that work from home on a personal computer rather than a mobile phone or a tablet. In addition, the app version will make chats more convenient, rather than letting them get lost in Facebook's confusing desktop interface.

It's also about security

Interestingly, Facebook's announcement comes when Zoom Video Communication is facing extra scrutiny with its security and privacy practices. Elon Musk's SpaceX and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) even prohibited their employees from using Zoom, according to Reuters. But Facebook also has a history of privacy issues, and it remains to be seen whether enterprises and employees will trust the social media behemoth to host their group video and chat communications.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Herve Blandin has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook and Zoom Video Communications and recommends the following options: short May 2020 $120 calls on Zoom Video Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Meta Platforms, Inc. Stock Quote
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