There has been a lot of interest in the invite-only and audio-only Clubhouse, with some social media giants looking into a similar product or feature. Facebook’s internal research and development group NPE Team is doing a public beta test of something called Hotline. The short description is that it’s a mashup of the aforementioned Clubhouse and also Instagram Live. It basically lets a host do a Q&A with fans and followers but they also have the option to turn on the video, just like any live video session.
Facebook seems to be taking its inspiration from Clubhouse as the interface will be familiar to those who have already used the audio app, as per Tech Crunch. Actually, if you’ve also used Twitter Spaces or other audio-only social networks, you won’t get confused with how this works. There’s a speaker section at the top where the host is shown as a round profile icon and below, you can see the listeners of the event.
The main difference with Hotline is that there’s an option for the host to go on video, similar to Instagram Live or Facebook Live. The listener’s section has a part that’s just for those who are listening while there’s a part for those who are asking questions. The questions can be upvoted or downvoted so the host can look and see which questions they’d like to answer next. They can also “pull” listeners onto the virtual stage if they want a discussion.
Listeners can react to the ongoing conversation with emojis like clapping hands, fire, heart, laughter, 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 be moderating the events and remove violators of Facebook’s basic policies. Hotline sessions are also recorded so they can upload the mp3 or mp4 to other networks or edit them into short-form content for other apps.
The first to test out Hotline is real estate investor Nick Huber. This seems to indicate what kind of “creator” Facebook is targeting for this feature, professionals who can use the platform to help people to be better in their field or expand their skills. You can sign up through your Twitter (weirdly enough) and anyone can join for free with no limit to audience size. It seems to be only available in the U.S for now so go to hotline.co to try and check it out.