Facebook is testing Hotline, its application developed to compete with the overwhelming success of Clubhouse. This start-up founded in 2020 offers a live audio chat application only accessible by invitation. Faced with its success, many technology companies are trying to copy it, including Twitter, Slack, LinkedIn and Spotify.
A video stream for the creator of the session
The R&D teams of Facebook’s “New Product Experimentation” (NPE) division have therefore launched the Hotline web application accessible to beta testers. This question-and-answer platform mixes audio, video and text, as TechCrunch reports. Hotline’s interface will look familiar to people already using Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces. At the top of the screen on mobile (or to the left on computer), a space displays the “speakers” where the host of the event is presented in a round profile icon or a live video feed. Below (or on the right), the list of people present is displayed with their profile picture.
Written questions can be asked, and others in the session can access the list of questions and vote for or against. The creator of the chat room can also consult this section to answer questions and invite listeners to “the stage” for a conversation, if they wish. These guest listeners are, for the moment, only represented by their profile picture. But, adds TechCrunch, in the settings there is an option allowing the listener to activate the video which is not yet functional. The other listeners present, meanwhile, can react to questions that are asked with emoticons like applause, fire, heart, laughter, etc.
The creator of the session can invite someone to speak.
Chat room creators have control over this event and can remove inappropriate questions and remove people from the session. However, for the first tests, Facebook employees will take care of moderation and remove anyone who violates the community standards set by Facebook.
To undoubtedly limit the possible problems related to moderation, the application now allows users to connect with Twitter and verify their identity by SMS. Another notable difference with Clubhouse is the fact that all sessions are recorded and forwarded to the session creator. At this time, anyone can join a session for free and there is no limit to the size of the audience. But that could be brought to change according to the evolution of the test.