Facebook launches its Clubhouse clone and podcast streaming

Facebook will promote audio 'rooms' at the top of its app.


Facebook is launching its social audio features. The company is rolling out its Clubhouse-like audio rooms, as well as a handful of podcasts.

Audio rooms are similar to Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces. Conversations stream live in the app, and room hosts can invite others up to speak with them. In a sign of just how important the feature is to Facebook, the app will promote the conversations at the top of News Feed above Stories. The new format also comes with creator-friendly features, like the ability to buy “stars,” the in-app gifts that help influencers make money from their streams.

Notably, Facebook will rely on automation and user reports to enforce its content rules with the new format. And like Clubhouse, which has at times struggled with moderation, room hosts can control who speaks, or report users who break the rules. Facebook also seems to be taking a somewhat cautious approach to start, as only verified public figures and creators in the US with accounts in “good standing” are able to create a room. However, any Facebook user can listen-in to a conversation or participate if the host invites them to speak.

Facebook is launching podcasts.
Facebook is launching podcasts. (Facebook)

Audio rooms will also feature heavily in Facebook Groups, where moderators and group admins can enable the audio streaming features, even for members who aren’t verified or public figures. Facebook says it’s making available to “select” groups to start but plans to expand its availability.

In addition to rooms, Facebook is also beginning to add podcasts to its platform. With the update, fans can listen to podcast episodes while they browse Facebook. It’s starting out with just a handful of names, including Joe Budden and Nicaila Matthews Okome, but will open up to more podcasts over the next few weeks.

With the new features, Facebook is the latest company to try to compete with Clubhouse, which has surged in popularity over the last year. Twitter has also been investing heavily in audio with Spaces, and Spotify just launched its take on the service with Greenroom.