Facebook to make Clubhouse-style 'social audio' push on Monday

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Facebook is allegedly preparing to announce a number of new products under the title of "Social Audio" on Monday, launches that could see it take on Clubhouse as well as working with Spotify to improve podcast recommendations.

Facebook is believed to be getting ready to reveal a selection of products that will have the common theme of audio. The announcements, expected to take place on Monday, will extend some of the existing features of the social network and its apps, as well as introduce some completely new elements.

According to sources of Vox, Facebook will launch an update to its videoconferencing-based Rooms feature to add an audio-only option. The decision was apparently spurned on by the adoption of Zoom and other group-calling services, and may give an alternative for users tired of using their webcam for online meetings.

A connected feature will be similar to Clubhouse, in that it will consist of virtual rooms and a "stage" where one or a few people will broadcast audio out to the audience. The third is an addition to the existing newsfeed to allow voice messages to be posted, alongside existing text-based posts, videos, and images.

Lastly, Facebook is thought to be working with Spotify to provide podcast discovery to social network users. While the makeup of the service is unknown, it is likely that users will be encouraged to listen via Spotify itself.

The move into creating a Clubhouse-style service is likely to have been instigated following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's usage of the app, which has included joining multiple public chats. He has also reportedly appeared in one conversation with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.

Facebook will have an advantage over Clubhouse for quite a few reasons, with its massive size and user base compared to the smaller rival likely to be the biggest. While Clubhouse has proven popular since its launch, its growth has been limited by its use of an invitation system, as well as being only available on iOS devices at present.

The connection to Spotify could cause some trouble for Apple, a competitor to the music streaming service and an apparent thorn in the side of Facebook. In January, Apple was reportedly considering creating its own paid premium podcast service, which would put it in line with Spotify and other startups.

While the announcements from Facebook are likely to occur on Monday, it is unknown when each of the Social Audio elements will go live. The Rooms audio and newsfeed voice messages are the most likely to launch quickly, but sources say other products may not become available until late spring.

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