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Facebook

Facebook on Monday rolled out long-awaited audio features, including a live audio product and a new tool that allows users to listen to their favorite podcasts while browsing its app.

Why it matters: Facebook is in a race with several of its peers for creators' attention in the audio space, including Twitter, Spotify and Clubhouse.

Details: Facebook's new "Live Audio Rooms" feature debuted Monday in the U.S. users to connect with their friends or public figures via real-time audio chats. It closely mimics the app Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces.

  • For now, public figures and select Facebook groups can create Live Audio Rooms on iOS. They can invite anyone who follows them, other public figures with a verified badge, and listeners in the room to join as a speaker. 
  • Live Audio Room hosts will be able to select a nonprofit or existing fundraiser to support during their conversation that listeners can donate to in real-time. The rooms can hold up to 50 speakers and an indefinite amount of listeners.
  • If a listener enjoys a conversation, they can offer support to speakers by sending virtual "stars" to public figures, who are paid acknowledgments. Listeners who buy stars can be bumped to the "front row" of a conversation, so their name displays first among the list of people tuning into the conversation.

Between the lines: Facebook is also rolling out a new podcasting feature. It includes an initial slate of podcasts from podcasters like Joe Budden and Nicaila Matthews Okome. It says it will add more podcasts in coming weeks.

  • Users can listen to select podcasters on their Facebook Pages, as well as in News Feed. They'll be accessible while users are browsing Facebook via a miniplayer that will still work even if the phone's display is turned off.

The big picture: Audio has become a table stakes feature for tech giants, following an audio explosion during the pandemic.

Go deeper: Big Tech moves in on the creator wars

Go deeper

The anatomy of social media's mad-making machine

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Facebook and other social media companies didn't cause America's massive political divide, but they have widened it and pushed it towards violence, according to a report from New York University released Monday.

Why it matters: Congress, the Biden administration and governments around the world are moving on from blame-apportioning to choosing penalties and remedies for curbing online platforms' influence and fighting misinformation.

Oversight Board calls for more Facebook transparency

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Facebook Oversight Board on Tuesday called on the social media giant to "commit to transparency" in the wake of a Wall Street Journal report last week that millions of high-profile users get special treatment by content moderators.

Why it matters: Although initially funded by Facebook, the Oversight Board operates independently as a kind of Supreme Court for the platform. The company has agreed to obey its rulings on specific content disputes, but the board's broader policy advice is strictly on a "recommendation" basis.

Major companies vow to train, hire Afghan refugees arriving in U.S.

Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya. Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Global Citizen

More than 30 major companies have promised to hire and train Afghan refugees coming to the U.S., per a press release from the Tent Partnership for Refugees, the group spearheading the effort.

The big picture: The 33 companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Pfizer and UPS, are joining the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees, a coalition founded by Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder and CEO of food company Chobani.