AOL in the 1990s, or Facebook in 2013? The social network is testing a new feature, code-named “host chat,” which allows users to establish chat rooms that their friends can join without invitations, Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch.

Facebook would only issue its standard response to TechCrunch:

We do test things from time to time with a small percentage of users.

However, a source within Facebook described how the host chat feature works, saying that a host chat button appears in the status update composer, alongside the “update status” and “add photos/video” options.

When users click the host chat button, a chat room opens, and users can name that chat room based on its intended use, such as discussing a specific topic or planning an event, which, TechCrunch pointed out, functions in a similar way to Facebook’s existing group chat feature.

The difference: Friends can join without the host having to invite them, as stories appear on News Feed alerting users that their friends are hosting chat rooms.

Hosts will be able to restrict who is allowed to join their chat rooms, and users can be expelled from those rooms.

According to TechCrunch, a “midsized” group of Facebook employees has been testing host chat, which is currently text-only, with the possibility that photos, videos, and emoji will be added later on.

Readers: Would you be interested in a host chat feature on Facebook?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.