Facebook’s experimental app development department, NPE Team, has released a new Q&A platform that borrows concepts from the lively, social network Clubhouse, but with streaks of live streaming thrown in.
The platform is called Hotline, and it presented its first question and answer with investor Nick Huber earlier today, according to a report from TechCrunch. A website for the service is online now and allows logins via Twitter, but it only contains a waiting list and a tool to apply to host your own show. TechCrunch says Facebook has made designs for mobile versions of the app, although they do not appear to be live right now.
News of Facebook building its own version of Clubhouse first surfaced in February, although Hotline is said to be a different product from the ongoing Clubhouse competitor being built by the team behind the video chat platform Messenger Rooms, TechCrunch reports. Twitter has also openly tested its Spaces alternative, putting more pressure on Clubhouse as the whisper of a new round of funding valuing the company to a conspicuous $ 4 billion valuation emerged earlier this week.
Hotline works differently than Clubhouse and Spaces. It allows hosts to use video and schedule more formal presentations with built-in questions and answers, instead of the more open audio conversations that take place at the clubhouse. The hotline also allows hosts to record their sessions in both audio and video format, TechCrunch sier.
The core questions and answers component of the Hotline involves the hosts asking questions from the audience delivered via text, while audience members can then voice which questions they want answered, and then answer the ongoing conversation with emoji reactions. Hosts can also bring individuals from the audience up on the virtual stage to ask their question live and potentially participate in a longer conversation. In this way, Hotline events are designed more as a cross between a radio program and a Twitch stream, where the audience is asked to weigh in here and there, but control over the conversation remains with the host.
The project is led by Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook when his app tbh, a platform for sending anonymous compliments to your friends, was acquired in 2017. Facebook later shut down tbh, despite Hazzard’s success in attracting millions of users to the platform . But it sounds like his expertise in creating these new mobile experiences is now being put to good use on Facebook as part of the NPE team, which has previously released apps that make music such as Collab and Bars.