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Facebook takes on Clubhouse with live audio chat rooms and ‘Soundbites’

Facebook is adding podcasts and ‘live audio rooms’ as the ” social network looks to capitalise on the growing shift towards sound-based chat apps like Clubhouse.

Facebook takes on Clubhouse with live audio chat rooms and ‘Soundbites’

The new features, going next few months, will include Live Audio Rooms, Facebook’s version of the popular app Clubhouse that allows people to listen and participate in live conversations.

Audio-only networks have become increasingly popular during the pandemic. Twitter’s “Spaces” works similarly, as a live audio-only chat room, and is expected to go live in April.

Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement in an interview with Casey Newton, a former tech reporter for the Verge who now runs his own newsletter, saying the social media network had plans in the coming months to launch features including short-form audio clips called “Soundbites”, as well as live audio rooms.

The CEO said there would soon be a way for users to discover and play podcasts on Facebook as well.

“We think a lot of magic happens at the intersection of audio formats, as well as at the confluence of text, audio and video,” Facebook app chief Fidji Simo said in a blog post. Facebook’s plan to weave audio offerings into the social network comes as it works to prevent losing users to Clubhouse.

Facebook has seen a steady rise in users opting for voice, from audio calls at the social network to leaving spoken messages using WhatsApp or Messenger.

Facebook will also launch a new feature, Soundbites, where users can create and share short audio clips. The feature will be launched over the next few months, at first with a small number of creators.

Simo described the new audio creation tools as “like having a sound studio in your pocket.” The tools will let people create short-form Soundbites such as jokes, anecdotes, or spontaneous thoughts, according to Simo. “While we’re big believers in the power of short-form audio, we also know that some stories and conversations deserve more airtime,” Simo said.

Facebook will also allow users to listen to podcasts directly from the Facebook app.

Users will be able to make money in the Live Audio Rooms or with Soundbites, though it’s unclear if this will be available to anyone or just reserved for creators with large followings.


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