Facebook tests Hotline, a live Q&A product

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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Social media giant Facebook has begun public testing of a new application dubbed Hotline, in which creators can talk and take live questions from an audience.

This Q&A product incorporates audio, text, and video elements, and is making a debut when social media sites are experimenting with a flurry of new live audio features. The success of Clubhouse, a year-old invite-only app with 10 million weekly active users, has shown the potential of audio chat services, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twitter has been experimenting with its audio feature Spaces, and Facebook is also dabbling with a live audio room offering within its Messenger Rooms. The Hotline is a result of Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, which is charged with creating small social media apps from the ground up.

Facebook Hotline

According to a Facebook spokeswoman, Hotline was targeted at “knowledge experts” who can share tips from various fields such as finance or health. The team is looking at how users’ questions can be “upvoted.”

There are currently no audience size restrictions in place for the application. In these early tests, hosts will delete questions from the queue, and Facebook says it is moderating inappropriate content. Hotline events are automatically registered and copies of the recorded are sent to the hosts. The spokeswoman stated that it was too early to say how creators could profit from Hotline events.

Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, recently spoke at a Clubhouse event about the importance of the creator economy. NPE is also experimenting with Super, a video app that allows users to pay to meet influencers, ask them questions, and take a ‘selfie’ photo in real-time. The team previously checked CatchUp, an audio-calling app that was shut down last year.

The Hotline is not currently available as a standalone app, and Facebook has stated that it is testing various authentication methods so that users can enter events via Twitter, Facebook-owned Instagram, or by providing phone numbers.

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