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Facebook’s Looking to Launch Audio-Only Rooms to Hook Into the Social Audio Trend

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Yes, Facebook’s Clubhouse clone is coming, and it could be here very soon, according to a new discovery in the back-end code of the app.

As you would expect, with the sudden rise of audio social, Facebook has also been working on its own live audio meeting rooms feature, which would enable Facebook users to create audio broadcasts that users can tune into, and participate in, within the app.

This is actually not a major stretch for Facebook to create, as it already has its video Rooms feature that it added in May last year, which enables users to create private video chats that others can drop into. Building a public, audio-only version of the same is technically something of a step back, reducing the data load by shutting off video, while also making them open to all users.

Which, according to this new screenshot, is apparently where Facebook is heading:

Facebook audio room

As you can see in this image, posted by developer Alessandro Paluzzi, Facebook’s working on new audio-only options for Rooms, which would enable hosts to create public or private audio groups chats.

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That would essentially facilitate the same use-case as Clubhouse, and Twitter’s Spaces, by providing a way for Facebook users to create public, audio meetings that anyone can drop into in real-time. 

That could turn up the heat once again on Clubhouse, which is still in invite-only mode. Earlier this month, Twitter flagged its intention to open up Spaces to all users by April, which would enable broadcasters to reach much wider audiences in the app, while Twitter’s also working on various discovery tools and options to enhance the Spaces experience.

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If those efforts work out, you can expect Facebook to also accelerate its plans for the same, and if Facebook can provide its own public Rooms discovery process, while enabling people and Pages to reach their followers and friends by highlighting in-progress audio Rooms at the top of the app, its audio Rooms could also become a big lure for creators looking to maximize their reach and community-building efforts.

But where Facebook’s audio Rooms might really win out is in Facebook groups, which 1.8 billion users already engage in every month. Imagine going to your favorite Facebook group and seeing that the people who you regularly interact with in the comments are live in an audio room, right there and then, which you can also join.

Audio meet-ups like this reduce some of the performance pressure of video, which can make them feel more casual, and that could make them a significant addition to already engaged, niche-focused Facebook groups. 

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It seems like a no-brainer that Facebook will look to add this functionality soon, and as noted, it’s really not difficult, considering the technical infrastructure to support such is already there. Twitter also has the same advantage with Spaces, which is built on the existing Periscope architecture, which means that many more people can join Twitter Spaces, and it’s able to support many more streams. Clubhouse, which is growing its server capacity in line with demand, is somewhat on the back foot in this respect.

It’ll be interesting to see when Facebook looks to go live with its audio rooms feature, and how it looks to roll it out. Either way, it could definitely be a good option to consider, especially for brand Pages looking to build community, and maximize engagement in the app, with a view to driving more referral traffic.

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And as noted, that will then add more pressure to Clubhouse, which will have to work quickly to build monetization and revenue share options to keep its best broadcasters around. Last week, Clubhouse announced the launch of its first key effort on this front, with its Creator First accelerator program, which will provide selected broadcasters with guaranteed income while they’re taking part in the program.

The question over the long-term future of audio social is another consideration, but given its popularity and resonance, it does seem to have a place in the broader social eco-system.

Which platform ends up being the best will likely come down to specific audiences and requirements, but the choices on this front are about to get even more complex.

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

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However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

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Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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