- Facebook unveiled several new audio-based tools for interaction and creation on the platform.
- They include live audio rooms (akin to Clubhouse) and “soundbites” for creating short audio clips.
- CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new products via an audio chatroom on Discord.
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Facebook is planning to launch a slate of audio-based tools in coming months as it strives to capture the growing hype around Clubhouse and other social-audio platforms.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the platform Discord on Monday to share – in an audio-only chat room – that the company is introducing new tools allowing Facebook users to interact with audio content and creators to produce it. The new tools, as first reported by Vox, include a live-audio chat feature akin to Clubhouse, the buzzy audio-chat app in talks for a funding round that would value the company at $4 billion.
In addition to these Clubhouse-like “Live Audio Rooms,” Facebook will also debut a new format for users to share content. The feature, called “Soundbites,” will eventually allow all users create and share short audio clips, which Facebook says can be used for “for capturing anecdotes, jokes, moments of inspiration, poems, and many other things we haven’t yet imagined.” The new tool draws early similarities to the voice tweets capability Twitter debuted last summer.
With Monday’s announcement, Facebook has laid out the groundwork for its vision to invest in “social audio,” the newest trend in social media in which new platforms have found success and interest. The most obvious success story is Clubhouse, the invite-only app that launched just over a year ago and found immediate success during the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on everyday social interaction. The app’s immediate popularity has brought the company more than $300 million in investments, and has spurred similar features from Twitter, Slack, Discord, LinkedIn, and Spotify (through its acquisition of Locker Room).
Still, Zuckerberg tried to pivot much of the news of the new products to Facebook’s creator audio tools, which he said would continue to “empower” users to create content.
“There are a lot of people who have something that’s really interesting they want to share. We want to make it so people can produce things they’re proud of easily with just a phone,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re building the product to give you an audio studio or recorder in your pocket.”
Facebook also announced Monday it would soon bring podcasts to the platform as part of its investment into audio content. Users will be able to discover and listen to podcasts directly on the Facebook app like they would on Apple Podcast or Stitcher. Zuckerberg also stressed that this new feature would benefit podcasters and creators by giving them access to a bigger audience. Podcasting has become a billion-dollar industry, with companies like Spotify investing big in the space, but Facebook is seemingly late to the game.
Facebook has gained the notorious role of copying new features and ideas from its competitors, the most notable example being its own version of Snapchat’s ephemeral Stories. Such accusations have also come from US lawmakers, who also have an ongoing antitrust investigation into the company. News that Facebook was first working on a Clubhouse-like feature came in February, just five days after Zuckerberg spoke as a guest on Clubhouse.