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Today Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went live to discuss a variety of topics, including the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Facebook’s efforts to distribute credible information about the virus and government relief policies (that information can be found here). He also took the time to announce several exciting video presence features. In this short blog post, I’d like to provide a summary of the new product updates he announced.

Zuckerberg divided the new features into three different categories.

Video Calls

First, the group call limit on WhatsApp will be extended from 4 to 8 callers. This will be one of a few conference call options that Facebook will now provide. Also, on Facebook Messenger, 360 degree virtual backgrounds will soon be available, along with mood lighting effects. So, if you have a messy room, don’t clean it. You can just hide all that now.

Video Rooms

Zuckerberg also announced Messenger Rooms, which is a video chat room service run through Facebook Messenger. However, anyone can join your room if they have the link, even if they don’t have a Facebook account. This will make it super easy to host meetings or just hangout with friends. You’ll be able to schedule a start time for the room to go live, and also you can set your preferences for who can join the call.

Live Video

Finally, Zuckerberg announced some exciting additions to Facebook’s live features. Namely, the Live With feature will be available on Facebook now, whereas it was previously only available on Instagram. There are so many ways to use the Live With feature, and I’m sure all of you church communicators out there will conjure up some creative utilities for it now on Facebook. Another small addition to live features is that Instagram Live will now be viewable on desktop. Zuckerberg noted in his video session that a lot of us are using our desktop computers more frequently during this time, so making social media services more desktop friendly is a nice touch.

Church communicators, this has been a difficult time for all of us, and I know everyone is ready to get back to church as usual. However, this time has also stretched us, forced us to be more creative, and constantly reminded us who the church really is. A people, not a place.

As we persevere, Facebook’s new tools will hopefully be a blessing to many by enhancing community and communication.

(If you want to watch Mark Zuckerberg’s full video, you can currently view it here).

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