SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook launched an experimental online forum called Hotline on April 7, an attempt by the social media giant to keep up with the live audio trend popularized by the likes of Clubhouse.

Social media stalwarts try to prevent users from being lured away by audio-only online competitors.

The Facebook application is essentially an evolution of Reddit’s Ask Me Anything sessions and Clubhouse, the audio-only social media sensation that started a year ago and boomed during the pandemic.

The hotline offers users a mix of voice, text and video options for participating in online discussions with hosts.

Users can ask questions in writing, which is not possible in the clubhouse. Meanwhile, the speakers can choose who they want to invite “on stage” to speak.

“With the hotline, we want to understand how interactive, live multimedia questions and answers can help people learn from experts in areas such as professional skills, as well as helping these experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokeswoman told AFP .

Session headliners have the option to turn on their web cameras to be seen and can also remove abusive comments from text chats, Facebook said, confirming an earlier report on TechCrunch.

According to the TechCrunch report, Facebook employees will moderate hotline events and evict anyone who breaks the rules they set.

The spokeswoman said Facebook had tested several other platforms.

This includes a question-and-answer product called Venue and collaborative music apps called Collab and Bars, which are more similar to TikTok. However, testing for an audio calling app called CatchUp ended last year.

Facebook has improved its live video and audio capabilities on both its main page and sister site Instagram following the success of the Zoom video conferencing service and clubhouse. – AFP

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