Facebook NPE Team Introduces Hotline, A New Competitor For Clubhouse In 2021


Facebook Hotline is a slightly different take on Clubhouse that puts more power in the hands of attendees who can upvote questions.

Instagram Live meets Clubhouse in the latest experimental app from the Facebook NPE team.

Facebook Hotline is being launched with select users only for its early test phase. Facebook claims the experiment is to help its teams better understand how interactive and live Q&As can become a resource for online learning:

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses. New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and Bars, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community.”

But, the truth is that Hotline looks a lot like a competitor to Clubhouse. With a big difference though: Hotline is also available on desktop.

Like on other audio social apps and features, Hotline featured the hosts on the top of the screen on mobile and the left side on desktop. Much like Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces, attendees are listed below and can ask to participate in the conversation. Facebook’s take, however, offers more control and interactivity for the attendees. As questions are being asked by the participants, attendees can upvote and downvote those questions, essentially shaping the order in which they will be answered. Attendees can also react to questions with Emojis including clapping hands, fire, heart, laughter, surprise, and thumbs up.

The final moderation of questions is left to hosts who can remove the inappropriate ones, or even kick out attendees from the sessions.

While Hotline events can only be started by a select few at the moment, anyone can join as an attendee. Participants are represented by their Facebook profile image but their profiles will not be linked to. The app is audio-only, but there is an option in the settings to toggle on video. While not functional at the moment, this setting indicates that Facebook could be taking a very different approach to live conversations.

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