There has been a lot of interest in the invite-only and audio-only Clubhouse, and some social media giants are looking for a similar product or feature. Facebook’s internal research and development team, NPE Team, is running a public beta test of something called the Hotline. The short description is that it is a combination of the Clubhouse mentioned above and also Instagram Live. It basically allows the host to do a question and answer session with the fans and followers, but also has the option to turn on the video, just like any live video session.
Facebook seems to be taking inspiration from Clubhouse, as the interface will be familiar to those who have already used the audio app. according to Tech Crunch. Actually, if you have also used Twitter Spaces or other audio-only social networks, you will not be confused with how it works. There is a speakers section at the top where the host is shown as a round profile icon and below, you can see the event listeners.
The main difference with Hotline is that there is an option for the host to go on video, similar to Instagram Live or Facebook Live. The listener section has a part that is only for those who are listening, while there is a part for those who ask questions. Questions can be voted up or down so the host can see what questions they would like to answer next. They can also “draw” listeners to the virtual stage if they want a discussion.
Listeners can react to the ongoing conversation with emojis like applause, fire, heart, laugh, thumbs up, etc. Hosts can remove inappropriate questions from the queue and even remove certain people from the hotline session. For the ongoing public beta test, Facebook employees will moderate events and remove violators of basic Facebook policies. Hotline sessions are also recorded so that they can upload the mp3 or mp4 to other networks or edit them into short-form content for other applications.
The first to try Hotline is real estate investor Nick Huber. This seems to indicate what kind of “creator” Facebook is targeting for this role, professionals who can use the platform to help people improve in their field or expand their skills. You can sign up via Twitter (oddly enough) and anyone can join for free with no audience size limit. It seems like it’s only available in the US for now, so head over to hotline.co to give it a try and check.