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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

Sep 28, 2021 - Technology

TikTok hits 1 billion users

Data: Axios research; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

TikTok on Monday said that it has amassed more than 1 billion monthly active users in its short lifetime, joining an exclusive club of apps that have already reached that size.

Why it matters: TikTok has continued to grow despite enormous pressure from regulators around the globe and increased competition from copycat products built by its competitors.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 28, 2021 - Technology

Behind the Instagram Kids pause

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Facebook's announcement Monday that it was "pausing development" on Instagram Kids did little to slow a wave of criticism of the project ahead of a Senate hearing Thursday.

Yes, but: There's an argument to be made for building kids' versions of popular apps, even if their adult versions are causing real-world harms.

Updated 10 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.