Facebook is launching a new Clubhouse clone called Hotline — here’s how it works.
The new app is a public beta test of Facebook’s twist on drop-in audio rooms. It allows creators to speak to an audience, and that audience can ask questions through text or audio. Creators can also turn on their cameras for their event, turning it into another streaming option rather than audio-only.
The first chat on Hotline began this morning with real estate investor, Nick Huber. Facebook told TechCrunch that Huber is exactly the type of entrepreneur they want Hotline to work for – someone who helps people expand their skills. Huber’s chat revolved around investing in industrial real estate.
Hotline’s interface is near a one-to-one copy of Clubhouse, for anyone familiar with the app.
At the top of the mobile app, there’s a speaker section with featured events. You can see more about the rooms and their creators by tapping on them. Despite the similarities, there are a few differences, too. Strangely enough, the app has users sign in with Twitter and verify their accounts using SMS.
The listeners section divides true listeners from those who also have questions – a distinction Clubhouse doesn’t make. At the top of the section for questions, you can see a list of questions that have been asked. You can also upvote and downvote those questions based on their content. The creator uses this section to see which questions to answer next.
Facebook Hotline allows users to type in their questions, then join the host on stage. Guests are represented by their profile icon and are audio only when they are pulled ‘on stage’ with the host. Video appears to be on the way, though the live preview doesn’t currently support it.
Much like Facebook and Instagram Live, users who are listening to the conversation on Hotline can react with emojis.
Laughter, hearts, surprise, thumbs up, fire, and clapping hands are just a few of the possibilities. Hosts are also given full control over their chat room experience. They can remove inappropriate questions from the queue, or remove people from their room entirely.
During the public beta preview, Facebook employees are serving as moderators of events. Unlike Clubhouse, which provides a one-of-a-kind experience, Hotline events are recorded for video-on-demand after a session ends. Clubhouse favors more impromptu chats that are ephemeral in nature; Facebook can’t resist collecting more data.
After every Hotline event, the host will receive two recordings in .mp3 and .mp4 format. These can then be uploaded to other social networks to share the content, unlike Clubhouse. Anyone is free to join Hotline at launch, with Facebook eschewing the invite-only structure.