Facebook’s clubhouse ‘competitor’ is here, and it’s called Hotline

It was only a matter of time: Facebook today launched an experimental clubhouse competitor called Hotline, which aims to take advantage of the increasingly popular social media format.

As reported by TechCrunch, Hotline was developed by Facebook’s New Product Experiment (NPE) division, which regularly releases apps with new ideas (or, in this case, not so new). That said, Hotline has a few features to set it apart from Clubhouse and Twitter’s Spaces.

Notably, it supports video and allows participants to switch videos when they ask a question, although that feature isn’t live yet. However, video seems to play a minor role for audio, as streams are presented in small circles the size of a profile image, rather than taking up much of the screen a la Twitch.

Users can choose to listen to the conversation alone or to be active participants, with a strong emphasis on the question and answer aspect. The app is led by Eric Hazzard, who previously developed the Q&A app tbh, which was acquired by Facebook in 2017.

Hosts can of course ask questions and remove participants from the session. Facebook also moderates the app in the early days.

It is also noteworthy that Hotline also automatically records calls. This can be useful for some types of gatherings, such as podcast-style sessions, but it eliminates the brevity and anonymity that are arguably part of Clubhouse’s appeal. TechCrunch describes that the app has a more professional look than Clubhouse’s informal meeting places.

Oddly enough, users are also currently being asked to log in via Twitter, even though it’s a Facebook-designed app.

Facebook’s NPE apps don’t always make a lasting impression, but they allow the company to try out different formats and build features that can eventually make their way to Facebook or Instagram. With Twitter and others joining the fray, we’ll have to see how long Hotline lasts.

If you want to give it a try, you can visit hotline.co and sign up for the waiting list.

Did you know we have a newsletter about consumer technology? It’s called Plugged In – and you can subscribe here.

Published April 8, 2021 – 03:36 UTC