Facebook has unveiled the launch of new chat features as the tech giant looks to cash in on the Clubhouse-fuelled audio boom.
The new Live Audio Rooms feature, which Facebook said will roll-out this summer, looks set offer a similar experience to Clubhouse, with live rooms where users can talk, interact and engage with each other in real-time.
Initially, Live Audio Rooms will be tested in Facebook’s Group feature and also made available to public figures.
“As part of this initial rollout – and because we know communities aren’t built just in Groups – we’ll also bring Live Audio Rooms to public figures so they can host conversations with other public figures, experts and fans,” said Facebook’s Fidji Simo in a statement online.
Simo also revealed the firm plans to release Live Audio Rooms on Messenger later this year.
The social media firm’s new ‘Soundbites’ feature, also unveiled this week, once again looks to capitalise on the popularity of audio content.
This will allow users to create, edit and share short-form audio clips with others. The feature will begin rolling out in the coming months and be made available to a “small number of creators” as Facebook looks to refine the feature.
“To start, we’re collaborating with creators to experiment with different concepts,” Simo said.
“Imagine, comedian Drew Lynch, sharing his short rants and food review in ASMR; Lola Spencer, an accessibility advocate reciting daily affirmations and her favourite inspirational quotes. The possibilities are endless and we can’t wait to hear their Soundbites.”
Content creators will be able to monetize channels and content through the new features. Upon launch, Facebook said fans will be able to support content creators or public figures through its ‘Stars’ feature or donate to causes they care about.
“Soon after launch, we’ll also offer other monetization models,” Facebook revealed in a statement. This could include the ability to charge for access to a Live Audio Room through a subscription service or individual purchases.
Similarly, for Soundbites, the firm plans to introduce an ‘Audio Creator Fund’ which aims to “support emerging audio creators and get early feedback on the new product experience”.
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The new features might be an exciting addition for content creators. However, it still remains unclear how any live audio channels will be moderated.
Facebook has been criticised heavily in recent years over its inability to moderate content and tackle the spread of misinformation across the platform.
Facebook Groups, in particular, have been highlighted as a hotbed of misinformation and hateful content. The social media giant has introduced new measures to monitor and police groups.
Imitation, Flattery etc…
These new features, particularly Live Audio Rooms, are a direct attempt to capitalise on the popularity of audio-only social networks.
Since its launch, Clubhouse has proved highly popular and attracted a host of high-profile users, including Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
Facebook isn’t alone in launching its own Clubhouse-style audio rooms, either. Twitter introduced its own Spaces feature last year.
However, the social media giant has previously been criticised for replicating popular features from other social networks or smaller companies.
The ‘Reels’ and ‘Stories’ features found on Instagram, Facebook’s sister platform, take a pinch of ‘inspiration’ from TikTok’s short video clips and Snapchat’s own stories feature.