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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Facebook Tests Hotline, a New Clubhouse-like Q&A Platform

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Following the massive popularity of audio-based social networking platform Clubhouse, we have seen numerous companies start work on a similar feature for their platforms. So now, Facebook has started testing a new Q&A-based service dubbed Hotline, which looks like a combination of Clubhouse and Instagram’s Live feature.

Facebook Hotline

Developed by the New Product Experiment (NPE) team at Facebook, Hotline is a brand new platform to host live events with a large audience. At first glance, it looks to be similar to Clubhouse and allows creators to host audio-based live events with their audience. While Clubhouse is designed for casual audio-conversation experiences, Hotline is more of a professional platform with some additional features.

UI and Features

For starters, unlike Clubhouse, Facebook’s Hotline offers live video support for the event host as well as the listeners. Besides, for current tests, users will need to sign in with their Twitter accounts and then verify their IDs via SMS to access the platform.

The UI, when viewed on a smartphone, looks similar to the interface of Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. The screen is divided into two sections – top (speakers) and bottom (listeners) on smartphones and left and right on a desktop. Moreover, the listener section is further divided into two sections for those who are just listening to the conversations and for those who are asking questions.

Facebook starts testing clubhouse-like hotline
Image: Facebook | Via: Techcrunch

Listeners can ask their questions by typing on the platform. Other listeners can then see the asked questions at the top of the listener section and even upvote or downvote them. The event host can then look up to the section and choose a relevant question to answer. This is something that is missing from Clubhouse and other similar platforms.

Now, the event hosts have complete control over the user experience. This means that hosts can add or remove guests during a live event. They can also bring a user to the “stage” area for a one-on-one conversation. As of now, the guests are represented by their profile pictures when brought “on stage”. However, there is an option for listeners to turn on their camera from the settings menu which is currently dysfunctional.

Another significant difference between Clubhouse and Hotline is that Hotline automatically records the live event and presents them to the host as an MP3 and an MP4 file at the end of the events. The creators can then share the recordings or clips of the recordings to other social platforms. It is something that is not present in Clubhouse.

Hotline is not available to global users yet. The NPE team at Facebook recently started testing the platform and Nick Huber, a popular real estate investor was the first one to publicly try it out. As per Facebook, individuals like Huber, who help others to expand their professional skills and finances, represent the target market for Hotline.

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” said Facebook in a statement.

Availability

The platform is currently out as a public beta for users in the US. It is currently unavailable here in India and shows the same if you go to its official website.

Facebook starts testing clubhouse-like hotline

However, if the platform garners enough users over the course of time, there is a high chance of Facebook launching Hotline in the global market. It might become a pretty useful tool for professionals and experts to interact with large audiences from their homes amidst the ongoing pandemic.

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