As was widely expected, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the plans for a suite of new tools and features designed to help users better connect with each other and their favorite creators through audio.
Speaking on the chat app ‘Discord’, Zuckerberg said audio is growing in popularity because it allows for longer discussions and multitasking.
He provided a roadmap for how Facebook plans to build out its audio suite in the next 3-6 months.
Facebook’s goal is to build a suite of audio products that will ultimately be as strong as its text, photo and video products. “At a high-level picture here, we think audio is also going to be a first-class medium,” Zuckerberg said.
Here are the new audio products from Facebook
Broadly speaking, this is what emerged from Zuckerberg’s announcements.
Soundbites: This will let users record short voice clips and post them on their News Feed. This new short-form audio product, according to Facebook CEO, is like an audio version of its TikTok-like video product Reels.
Podcasts: Zuckerberg said Facebook will build a podcast discovery tool for creators to share their podcasts with users on Facebook, and also for users to consume and discover podcasts on Facebook.
“Within the next few months, you’ll be able to listen to podcasts directly on the Facebook app — both while using the app or when the app is backgrounded,” the company said in a separate blogpost.
Facebook will likely tie up with an external podcast app for this feature.
Live audio: Zuckerberg said his company is working on a tool that lets people listen to and engage with speakers through live audio chat like on Clubhouse.
Facebook is also working on an audio-only version of Rooms, a video conferencing tool it launched last year to take on Zoom.
Audio boom and content moderation
Quite evidently, the digital audio boom is driving several of the biggest tech and social media giants to double down on new audio features. As is known, Twitter, which has already launched its audio chat product, Spaces, is in the process of mainstreaming it to Android users too. Reddit, another popular social media forum, said it’s also planning to launch a new audio chat feature called Reddit Talk.
But why audio is flourishing now? “From a production experience it’s also a lot more accessible,” Zuckerberg said about audio as a medium.
He also said Facebook is also building out infrastructure for things like donations or subscriptions that can help creators monetize their products that could one day be applied to audio.
But even as audio products hit a high, content moderation issues remain.
Zuckerberg, however, said Facebook’s current moderation infrastructure, which includes thousands of content moderators, can be used on audio, too.