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Facebook Messenger’s newest feature is perfect for the pandemic

Published Sep 14th, 2020 5:25PM EDT
Facebook Watch Together
Image: Facebook

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  • Facebook introduced a new Messenger feature called Watch Together on Monday.
  • Watch Together lets you watch any video on Facebook with your friends over a Messenger video call so that you can chat and react while the video is playing.
  • Watch Together is free and will roll out to iOS and Android devices this week.

Facebook has spent much of 2020 expanding the functionality of its Messenger app, and that continued this week with the introduction of Watch Together. As the name suggests, Watch Together lets you watch videos on Facebook with your friends and family while you are all in a Messenger video call together. If this sounds familiar, you might be thinking of the Watch Parties feature that Facebook debuted back in 2018, but the key difference is that with Watch Together, you can talk to one another and see each other’s reactions while the video is playing.

The main limitation of Watch Together is that you can only watch videos that live on Facebook. YouTube, Netflix, and other video platforms and streaming services are not supported, so you’ll have to find another method to watch those videos, shows, and movies with your friends. What you are able to watch are trending videos, sports highlights, clips from your favorite creators, and Facebook Watch originals like Sorry For Your Loss and Strangers.

If you want to virtually stay in touch with friends and family members, but you’re sick of aimless Zoom calls, this might be a compelling alternative. Rather than once again telling everyone how bored you are while attempting to stay safe during a pandemic, you can watch a bunch of silly videos together and react to them instead. Facebook Messenger product manager Nora Micheva also notes that the social network has partnered with fitness trainer Melissa Alcantara to make a series of workout videos that Messenger users can watch together.

“According to a study we conducted in the US, 70% of people who work out with a partner have achieved a fitness goal in the past six months,” Micheva says in a blog post about the introduction of Watch Together. Meanwhile, she adds, “only 45% of people who work out alone have done the same.”

If you want to try out the new feature for yourself, all you have to do is either start a Messenger video call or create a Messenger Room in the app on your phone, swipe up to access the menu, and tap on Watch Together. You will then be able to choose from a variety of different categories, including TV & Movies, Suggested, and Uploaded. There is also a search bar you can use to find specific videos you want to watch. Up to eight people can Watch Together in a video call, while 50 can watch in a Room. The feature is free and rolling out on iOS and Android this week.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.