Following the success of the Clubhouse audio chat service, Facebook and Twitter are testing their audio products live.

Facebook Inc has started publicly testing a new app called Hotline, in which creators can speak and answer questions from an audience live.

This question-and-answer product combines audio with text and video elements and comes as social media platforms experience a rush for new live audio features.

The success of the year-old, invitational Clubhouse app, which reported 10 million active users per week, demonstrated the potential of audio chat services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twitter Inc has tested its audio Spaces feature, and Facebook is also trying to offer a live audio room in its messaging rooms.

Hotline originates from a small group within Facebook called the New Product Experimentation Team (NPE), which is responsible for building small social media apps from scratch.

‘Knowledge experts’

A Facebook spokesperson said on Wednesday that the hotline was aimed at “knowledge experts” who could share advice from specialist fields such as finance or health. She said the team was exploring how user questions could be “voted for”.

Clubhouse, a one-year invitation-only app, reported 10 million weekly active users, demonstrating the potential of audio chat services [File: Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo]

The app currently has no audience size limit. Hosts are able to remove questions from the queue, and Facebook has said it is moderating inappropriate content in these early tests.

Hotline events are automatically logged and hosts receive copies of the recordings. The spokesperson said it was too early to say how the creators could make any money from the hotline’s events.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently joined a Clubhouse event to talk about the importance of the Creator Economy.

NPE is also testing Super, a video app where users can pay to meet influencers, ask them questions and capture a “selfie” image at live events. The team has already tested an audio calling app called CatchUp, which was shut down last year.

Hotline is not currently a stand-alone app, and Facebook said it is testing different authentication methods so that users can join events through Twitter, Facebook-owned Instagram, or by providing phone numbers.

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