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Facebook Launches Live Audio Rooms

Facebook is planning to launch Live Audio Rooms as a competition to the clubhouse. The company announced today that some US-based public figures, as well as certain groups, can start hosting rooms through the main Facebook iOS app.Anyone can be invited up as a speaker with up to 50 people able to speak at once. There’s no cap on the number of listeners allowed in a major shot at Clubhouse, which imposes room size limitationsFacebook is also introducing nifty features, like notifications when your friends or followers join a room, as well as live captions. There will be a raise a hand button to request to join the conversation, and reactions will be available to interact throughout the chat.

Admins can control who’s allowed to create a room like moderators, group members, or other admins. Public group chats will be accessible both in and outside the group, but private group chats will be restricted to members. The hosts can also select a nonprofit or fundraiser to support during their conversation with a button to directly donate showing up on the chat. Again, this feels like a feature directly built to address a key Clubhouse use case and make it frictionless.

Facebook is making podcasts available on the platform. People will be able to listen to podcasts through either a mini-player or a full-screen player with various playback controls, including the ability to listen while the screen is off. They can find shows on specific podcast creators’ Pages, as well as in the News Feed, and they can react to, comment, bookmark, and share their favourites. The company says it plans to roll out automatic captioning later this summer, as well as clips, a feature where listeners can create and share their favorite clips.

All these features come just days after Spotify debuted its live audio app, Greenroom; three months since Stage Channels came to Discord; four months after Reddit Talk; roughly seven months after Twitter launched Spaces; and about 15 months after Clubhouse first launched. LinkedIn and Slack are, reportedly, working on their versions of an audio product, even as downloads of and buzz around Clubhouse itself have waned considerably.

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