updated 07:53 pm EDT, Thu June 27, 2013
Limited amount of users able to access new feature
Facebook is in the midst of constructing "Host Chat," a feature on the social network that allows users to set up AOL-like chat rooms that friends can join at will, without a specific invite. Users will receive a note in the news feed that a friend is hosting a chat room, and an option to join the ongoing chat is given. The feature is similar to the chat feature in Facebook Groups, but with fewer restrictions for entry for users not in the relevant group.
Hosts are allowed to set privacy restrictions on users that are allowed to join, and miscreants can be purged from the chat by the host for any reason. Early tests of the feature are only supporting text, with no ability to share video or photos within the chat. Depending on privacy settings, friends of friends may join the chat.
Presently, no mobile support exists for the test feature, but Facebook often tests upcoming features in a web-only implementation to start. The new chat function, if fully implemented, should drive up the "time on site" metric, which should assist Facebook's bottom line and improve advertising sales.