Facebook today launched Live Audio Rooms, the social media giant’s competitor to audio-based Clubhouse. Facebook said, in a press release, that public figures and select Facebook Groups in the U.S. can start to use the feature on iOS, Apple’s operating system, while select podcasts will also be available in the U.S.
The company said that, in the coming weeks it would expand the service to more public figures and groups — and introduce new features as well.
A key goal of the rollout is to introduce a lineup of public figures and others to generate content, such as podcasts. As it prepared the U.S. launch of Live Audio Rooms, Facebook tested the feature in Taiwan. Facebook is also considering shareable audio for jokes and anecdotes.
Clubhouse gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its informal, voice-only app was kicked into prominence with drop-in talks from notable figures like Elon Musk. The Clubhouse app has been available on iOS for a year and is now also available to Android smartphone users.
By January of this year, San Francisco-based Clubhouse had 2 million active weekly users. In addition, the startup had reeled in $100 million, geared to growth, from renowned venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
Facebook said that its new Live Audio Rooms will enable users to listen in on and join live conversations with public figures, experts and event hosts. In turn, these folks can invite friends, followers, verified public figures, or listeners in the “room” to be a speaker. Today’s release said there can be up to 50 speakers — with no limit to the number of listeners.
At this point, Facebook said, its roster of podcasts will include Joe Budden of The Joe Budden Podcast; “Jess Hilarious” of Carefully Reckless (from The Black Effect Podcast Network and iHeartRadio); Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin, and Jac Vanek of the LadyGang; and Nicaila Matthews Okome of Side Hustle Pro.