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Facebook to let people post with sound, just like they do pictures and text, as it takes on Clubhouse

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Andrew Griffin
·2-min read
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Facebook Oversight Board (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Facebook Oversight Board (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Facebook says it is building a host of new audio tools as part of a focus on “audio storytelling”.

The new features are aimed at allowing people to post in sounds, in much the way they can currently post photos, videos or text.

They include new audio creation tools that will allow people edit and manipulate sounds; the ability to make short clips that can be shared in the News Feed like a status update; support for podcasts that can be listened to within the app; and “live audio rooms” that work like viral app Clubhouse.

Facebook often recreates the features of increasingly popular apps: it took the stories format from Snapchat and used it for Instagram stories, for instance, as well as the Reels tools that works similarly to TikTok.

Since shortly after the rise of the exclusive audio app Clubhouse, Facebook has been rumoured to be working on new audio tools that will offer similar features. But it also comes amid rising interest in audio shows such as podcasts.

Both Clubhouse and Facebook’s new live audio rooms feature allow users to host conversations between multiple people, which are then broadcast to anyone who joins, like a real-time podcast.

Some of the new Facebook tools are aimed at working together: people will be able to take one of those live conversations and share it as a podcast, for instance. Such a feature is not possible on Clubhouse, where conversations are lost when they are over if they are not recorded using external tools.

There will also be ways for creators to make money through those live audio rooms, which is also currently not supported on Clubhouse. Hosts will be able to charge for access to an individual room, or an ongoing subscription.

Facebook also emphasised that it would ensure the features were accessible. It will build automatic transcription to the system so that people who might not be able to listen would be able to follow along, it said.

The live audio rooms will initially come to Facebook groups and public figures. They will then be rolled out more broadly on Facebook, the company suggested, as well as within Messenger conversations.

Facebook said the new tools had also grown out of the ways that people are using audio within its own apps, including audio calls and messages in Facebok Messenger and WhatsApp.

“We’re working to make audio messages easier to record, and more fun — including the ability for people to send familiar sound clips to their friends that range from sound effects like crickets chirping to quotes from popular songs,” wrote Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app.

“But we know there are more social experiences to create to help people say what they want to say, discover new voices they haven’t heard before, or exchange ideas at the speed of sound.”

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