It was bound to happen. Facebook has announced something called Live Audio Rooms, which they expect to make available to everyone on the Facebook app by the summer of 2021. It is obviously Facebook’s way of competing with Clubhouse.
We believe that audio is a perfect way for communities to engage around topics they care about. We’ll test Live Audio Rooms in Groups, making it available to the 1.8 billion people using Groups every month and the tens of millions of active communities on Facebook.
In addition, Facebook also plans to release Live Audio Rooms on Messenger this summer. It appears Facebook wants to allow people who create a Live Audio Room the ability to record what is said and put that audio into a podcast. Naturally, this is because Facebook has teamed up with Spotify to bring podcasts to Facebook.
The one good thing that Facebook is doing is making the audio from Live Audio Rooms and Soundbites include captions. Giving people who are hearing impaired or deaf the ability to know what is being said in a Live Audio Room makes the experience more accessible.
However, I’m not a fan of Facebook’s plan to enable people to take their Live Audio Rooms chat and upload it to their podcast. Right now, we don’t know for certain if Facebook will require creators of Live Audio Rooms to specifically gain permission to record those who attend. It is possible Facebook might put something in the “fine print” stating that entering a Live Audio Room means you consent to being recorded. In short, if you join a Live Audio Room, you should be mindful of what you say.
I believe that Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms will be a strong competitor to Clubhouse. There have been plenty examples where Clubhouse has failed to protect the privacy of users. People cannot join Clubhouse without receiving an invite from someone who is already on it. Clubhouse requires users to upload their contact list – which feels to me like an invasion of privacy.
Facebook very likely has more users than Clubhouse. If you use Facebook (or its other products) you might be aware that Facebook has been grabbing your data. The biggest advantage Facebook has over Clubhouse is that Facebook will make it as easy as possible for people to host and join Live Audio Rooms.
In my opinion, if you want to start a podcast, you shouldn’t do it on Clubhouse or Facebook. Get a WordPress blog and find a credible podcast host provider. Doing so gives you control over where your podcast “lives”, and does not require you to feed your data to voracious companies (such as Facebook and Clubhouse).