The social-media giant Facebook rolled out a suite of Live Audio Rooms and podcasts on Monday, giving its platform a new foothold in a space that has seen a surge of interest following the meteoric rise of audio-only social apps like Clubhouse during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the coming weeks, the company will expand the ability for more public figures and Groups to host a Live Audio Room and introduce new features for both experiences in the coming months.

Public figures can invite friends, followers, verified public figures, or any listeners in the room to be a speaker.

The host can invite speakers in advance or during the conversation. There can be up to 50 speakers, and there’s no limit to the number of listeners, Facebook said in a statement.

“In Groups, admins can control whether moderators, group members or other admins can create a Live Audio Room. In public Groups, both members and visitors can listen to the Live Audio Room, but in private Groups, only members can listen,” informed Fidji Simo, Head of Facebook App.

Live Audio Room hosts can also select a nonprofit or fundraiser to support during their conversation, and listeners and speakers can directly donate.

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People on iOS and Android can discover Live Audio Rooms to join from places like News Feed and via notifications.

On Facebook Live Audio Room, listeners can also offer support and show appreciation to the public figure host by sending Stars, which bumps those listeners up to the “front row.”

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Facebook said that people can listen to podcasts while browsing the platform, via a miniplayer or full-screen player experience with playback options, including with their phone display turned off. People can listen to select podcast creators on their Facebook Pages, as well as in News Feed.

“Later this summer, we’ll roll out additional features, like captions and the ability to create and share short clips of a podcast,” Facebook said. The company said that it will also refine the ‘Soundbites’ experience before it launches later this year.

“We’ll also soon start testing our other audio products like the central listening destination and background audio listening for videos,” said Facebook.