Facebook Launches Audio Rooms, Its Answer to Google Hangouts

Facebook is expanding the Live Audio rooms feature it introduced in the United States in June to a worldwide audience.

Live Audio Rooms on Facebook are now available to create through the company’s iOS app, which was previously able to generate them; it can also make rooms using its Android app. Listeners will be able to access Live Audio Rooms on desktop, although they’ll need a mobile program to create them.

Facebook is launching its Soundbites short-audio functionality to more people in the United States. Within Facebook, users record a short piece of audio — an anecdote, a joke, or a moment of inspiration — using a separate tool. Mark Zuckerberg compared Soundbites to Instagram Reels but for audio.

Despite the fact that Facebook has been offering podcasts for quite some time, listening to podcasts on Facebook is still restricted to people in the United States.

Facebook’s approach towards hazardous content, of course, has been a hot topic in recent weeks following the publication of internal papers provided to news outlets by whistleblower Frances Haugen, who revealed the company’s research showing that Instagram can be toxic for teenagers, particularly girls.