Facebook introduces new audio features to compete with Clubhouse

The new tools include audio-only ‘rooms’ and a new podcasting feature.


Facebook has introduced a new set of audio features to help it compete with Clubhouse. The features include audio-only “rooms” for live chats, as well as “soundbites,” for sharing short voice messages, and a new podcasting feature. These features have yet to launch, though audio rooms will be available by this summer, Facebook said.

Of the new audio tools, rooms is the most similar to Clubhouse. It will allow users to participate in live chats on both facebook and Messenger. The company says it will test the feature inside of Groups and with a group of public figures so they “can share ideas with new audiences and create a forum for discussion, without the added pressure of being on camera.”

Facebook's Soundbites feature.

Facebook is also working on “soundbites,” which will allow users to post short audio clips in News Feed. It appears that soundbites will encompass more than just basic audio clips, with the ability to add special effects, transcriptions and other creator-friendly features. Finally, the company is working on a podcasting feature that will allow users to browse, download and listen to podcasts directly from Facebook’s app. Users will be able to listen to audio while the app is open, as well as while it’s “backgrounded.”

Notably, Facebook will experiment with monetization features in all of its new audio features. It plans to incorporate tipping features, as well as giving creators the ability to offer paid subscriptions for access to rooms. It’s also creating a fund that will pay influencers to make soundbites.

Facebook is far from the only platform experimenting with social audio. Twitter has been testing audio-only Spaces for months, and Reddit just previewed its own version of the feature called Reddit Talk.