FACEBOOK LAUNCHES PODCASTS AND LIVE AUDIO STREAMS IN THE US

Facebook is launching podcasts and live audio streams in the US on Monday to keep users engaged on its platform and compete with emerging rivals. Facebook says it allows public figures with verified accounts to start to live audio rooms and invite anyone else to speak. A handful of podcasts will be available to people in the US initially, and the company plans to add more down the line.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has appeared on the video streaming app Clubhouse in the past, hosted his own live audio room on his Facebook page last week.

“Live Audio Rooms and podcasts rolling out in the US is just the beginning of our audio journey,” wrote Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app, in a blog post-Monday. “Looking ahead, we are working with creators who will use our audio tools to develop further and launch Soundbites — short-form, creative audio clips.”

Facebook, which announced its audio plans to push into audio streams in April, says its rules apply to live audio and podcasts, and anyone can report offending material. But podcasts and live audio have also been an outlet for racism, misinformation, and extremist material. Live audio is complicated to moderate compared with traditional social media posts.

“In addition, our broader integrity and safety work and the tools we have built for proactively and automatically identifying harmful content are great building blocks, but we plan to adopt tech and processes as we learn more,” the company said in a prepared statement.

The company says that it may also retain live audio after it is no longer live to enforce its policies, which will be done both by human moderators and machine learning.

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