Social Media

Facebook begins rolling out Live Audio Rooms in the US

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 21, 2021

Launched alongside podcasts

Facebook is beginning to roll out its social audio experiences, Live Audio Rooms and podcasts, starting with the United States, the company has announced.

“We’re rolling out Live Audio Rooms and podcasts, as part of our plans to bring social audio experiences to Facebook,” the social media major said in a blog post.

The platform is rolling out its Clubhouse competitor Live Audio Rooms for public figures and select Facebook Groups in the US. These users can create Live Audio Rooms on iOS while select podcasts will be available to listeners in the US.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll expand the ability for more public figures and Groups to host a Live Audio Room and introduce new features for both experiences in the coming months,” the tech giant said.

Live Audio Rooms on Facebook will enable users to “discover, listen in on and join” live conversations with public figures, experts and others about topics they are interested in.

“Public figures can invite friends, followers, verified public figures, or any listeners in the room to be a speaker,” it said.

The host can invite speakers in advance or during the conversation. There can be up to 50 speakers in a room, while there’s no limit to the number of listeners.

For Facebook Groups, admins can control whether moderators, group members or other admins can create a Live Audio Room. Both members and visitors can listen to a Live Audio Room in public Groups while only members can listen in private Groups.

How it works

The platform will also allow hosts to select a nonprofit or fundraiser to support during their conversation, and listeners and speakers can directly donate.

Android and iOS users can discover Live Audio Rooms to join from places like News Feed, notifications, and Facebook Groups. They can also sign up to be reminded when a Live Audio Room they are interested in goes live.

It also includes live captions and “raise a hand” to request to join the conversation and use reactions to participate in real-time.

The platform is also enabling its ‘Stars’ features with these audio rooms.

“Listeners can also offer support and show appreciation to the public figure host of the Live Audio Room by sending Stars, which bumps those listeners up to the “front row.” The “front row” is a special section that highlights people who sent Stars, so hosts can recognize supporters (and maybe even give them a shout out during the conversation!),” Facebook said.

Listeners can purchase Stars packs during the conversation and send them anytime.

Facebook is partnering with a range of public figures for the feature.

Podcasts

The tech giant is also bringing podcasts to the platform.

Users can listen to podcasts while browsing the platform via a mini player or opt for a full-screen player experience with playback options, including their phone display turned off.

They can listen to select podcast creators on their Facebook Pages, as well as in News Feed. Users will be able to react to, comment, bookmark and share their favourite podcasts.

It will also roll out additional features such as captions and the ability to create and share short clips of a podcast later this summer.

“Over time, we’ll build more unique social experiences around podcasts that make use of Facebook’s best interactive and personalised features,” it said.

Soundbites

It is also working on a new short-form audio feature called Soundbites with creators.

Creators will use Facebook’s audio tools to further develop and launch short-form audio clips called Soundbites.

“We are excited to partner with this community to refine the Soundbites experience before it launches later this year. We’ll also soon start testing our other audio products like the central listening destination and background audio listening for videos,” it said.

Facebook seems bullish on the audio Space. Social audio rooms garnered massive popularity with Clubhouse which shot to fame following endorsements from Silicon Valley majors, including Elon Musk. Multiple tech giants such as Twitter and Spotify have entered the space with offerings such as Twitter Spaces and Spotify’s Greenroom. Reddit and LinkedIn are also reportedly working on audio rooms.

Published on June 21, 2021

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