Facebook is expanding the Live Audio rooms feature it launched in the US in June to a global audience. In addition to public figures and creators, Facebook is making the feature — a Clubhouse competitor— available to groups as well.
When it first launched, Live Audio rooms could be created via Facebook’s iOS app; it’s now added the ability to create rooms in its Android app as well. People will now be able to listen to Live Audio Rooms on desktop, but still have to use a mobile app for creation. Within groups, admins can control who enters an audio room, with private and public options available.
The social media giant is also rolling out its Soundbites short-audio feature to more users in the US. Soundbites live in users’ News Feeds; users record a short piece of audio — an anecdote, a joke, a moment of inspiration — in a separate tool within Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg described Soundbites as similar to Instagram’s Reels, but just for audio. Facebook says the product is still in early stages of development, but has had success among creators using it so far. It will be available to more users in the coming weeks.
Facebook finally got into the podcast arena over the summer, but listening to podcasts on Facebook is still limited to its US audience. The company said in a statement it has plans to expand its podcast offerings to more markets in the future, as part of a “long-term vision in offering a holistic experience that brings together new distribution opportunities, discovery, monetization and social connections for podcasts in one place.”
The company also says it has focused on moderation tools within its social audio experiences, including tools that “proactively and automatically identify harmful content,” and are adapting its processes to moderate audio content that violates Facebook’s community standards.
How Facebook handles harmful content, of course, has been a major subject of scrutiny in recent weeks, after internal documents provided to news outlets by whistleblower Frances Haugen showed the company’s research found its Instagram platform could be toxic for teenagers, particularly girls. Company vice president for global affairs Nick Clegg said over the weekend that Instagram would introduce features encouraging users to “take a break” from the platform and to “nudge” them away from content “not conducive to their well-being.”