Facebook said they were looking at about a mid-year launch and that’s just what we’ve gotten. Or, rather, they’ve gotten. Live Audio Rooms, the social network’s Clubhouse-like clone that will see users hosting live audio chats with up to 50 speakers, is now rolling out.
But there’s a caveat here — the feature’s only rolling out in the States for the moment and then only on the iOS version of Facebook’s app.
Live Audio Rooms — not for everyone (yet)
There are a few more restrictions in place for the Clubhouse clone, to boot. It’s only available to public figures (so, not you) and to selected Facebook Groups. In the next few weeks, “…we’ll expand the ability for more public figures and Groups to host a Live Audio Room and introduce new features for both experiences in the coming months.” So you, and almost everyone else, will only get to listen for now. But that’s fine, at least you’re getting “select” podcasts… again, if you’re in the US.
The company has quite comprehensively explained how Live Audio Rooms will work, however. You’ll only be able to host if you’re one of the select few and using the iOS version of the app, but you can listen in if you’re on Android or iOS. Automated systems will (hopefully) take care of anyone abusing the content rules, but user reports will also play their part.
Groups can set who can create a Room from their moderators, admins or group members. Public groups’ Live Audio Rooms will be open to everyone, while private Groups will see Rooms restricted to members of that Group. Facebook Stars will be a feature of the new feature — this is basically a paid-for add-on that lets listeners go “Notice me, senpai” while making the creators (and Facebook) a little cash on the side.
The first crop of podcasts on the service includes “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.” According to Facebook, “[p]eople can listen to podcasts while browsing Facebook, via a miniplayer or full-screen player experience with playback options, including with their phone display turned off.”
More features are expected for Live Audio Rooms, and Facebook’s new podcasts, at a later stage. So by the time we get it, it should be a complete product. Which is nice, we guess?