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LinkedIn Launches Test of Audio Rooms, Announces New Formats for Live Events

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LinkedIn Launches Initial Test of Audio Rooms, Announces New Formats for Live Events

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With the pandemic still disrupting live events, and forcing businesses and industry groups to seek alternative means of networking and community connection, LinkedIn has seen a big rise in live events hosted on its platform, with the creation Live Events in the app increasing by 150%, year-over-year.

Which makes sense – LinkedIn is, after all, the professional social network, and where business leaders are increasingly looking to establish professional connections. And now, as it looks to maximize its potential on this front, LinkedIn is adding some new elements to its live events tools, which will provide more capacity for connection and interaction within the LinkedIn environment.

First off LinkedIn’s launching an initial test of its own, Clubhouse-like audio events platform, which will enable users to tune into live discussions in the app, and participate by raising their virtual hand to join as a speaker, or posting likes in response to the chat.

As you can see here, the format looks very much like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, with separate panels for those ‘on stage’ and speaking, and those tuning in below.

LinkedIn has been developing its live audio tools since March last year, at the peak of the Clubhouse hype cycle, and while it has taken some time for the platform to develop its own option, it could still serve a valuable purpose within the LinkedIn environment, providing more capacity for professional connection within industry-aligned meetings and discussions.

LinkedIn also notes that it has solid capacity to highlight the most relevant audio sessions to each member:

We have the professional context to recommend the most relevant events that can help you learn, network and be successful, and we’re investing more in surfacing these events to you. Whether an event by a creator or page you follow, or a topic you’re passionate about, we will surface the events that will help you reach your career goals.

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Discovery remains the key challenge for social audio tools, and given the professional focus of LinkedIn, which helps to ensure that spam and off-topic discussions are somewhat limited, it could be well-positioned to highlight more relevant sessions to each user.

LinkedIn’s also using the format of its audio rooms as a template of sorts for its other live meeting features, including video events:

LinkedIn video events

And single user live-streams:

LinkedIn live-streams

That will expand the platform’s capacity to host virtual discussions, and bring industry leaders together in new formats, which could, again, be hugely valuable within a LinkedIn context, and help to expand the usage of the platform for live events.

Of course, ideally, we’ll all be able to go back to IRL events sooner rather than later. But with the Omicron variant of COVID now pushing case numbers higher once again, it looks like we will indeed be living with the virus for some time yet.

And even when live events are able to go ahead, these new connection options on LinkedIn will serve a valuable purpose, particularly as more businesses move to hybrid working processes, with more people spending more time in different locations, as opposed to being tied to a physical office space. As employees shift away from major cities, that could also impact the capacity to get business leaders together for such events – but virtual meet-up tools like this could ensure that such sessions can still happen, no matter where each participant is based.

The developments could serve a valuable purpose – LinkedIn says that its new events options will be tested by a few thousand creators who will host events across different topics and themes”

“We’ll expand the ability to host Audio Events to more creators in the coming months, and we’ll start rolling out our Video Events format later this spring.

Definitely one to keep tabs on – we’ll keep you updated on any progress.

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UK teen died after ‘negative effects of online content’: coroner

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Molly Russell was exposed to online material 'that may have influenced her in a negative way'

Molly Russell was exposed to online material ‘that may have influenced her in a negative way’ – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Philip FONG

A 14-year-old British girl died from an act of self harm while suffering from the “negative effects of online content”, a coroner said Friday in a case that shone a spotlight on social media companies.

Molly Russell was “exposed to material that may have influenced her in a negative way and, in addition, what had started as a depression had become a more serious depressive illness,” Andrew Walker ruled at North London Coroner’s Court.

The teenager “died from an act of self-harm while suffering depression”, he said, but added it would not be “safe” to conclude it was suicide.

Some of the content she viewed was “particularly graphic” and “normalised her condition,” said Walker.

Russell, from Harrow in northwest London, died in November 2017, leading her family to set up a campaign highlighting the dangers of social media.

“There are too many others similarly affected right now,” her father Ian Russell said after the ruling.

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“At this point, I just want to say however dark it seems, there is always hope.

“I hope that this will be an important step in bringing about much needed change,” he added.

The week-long hearing became heated when the family’s lawyer, Oliver Sanders, took an Instagram executive to task.

A visibly angry Sanders asked Elizabeth Lagone, the head of health and wellbeing at Meta, Instagram’s parent company, why the platform allowed children to use it when it was “allowing people to put potentially harmful content on it”.

“You are not a parent, you are just a business in America. You have no right to do that. The children who are opening these accounts don’t have the capacity to consent to this,” he said.

Lagone apologised after being shown footage, viewed by Russell, that “violated our policies”.

Of the 16,300 posts Russell saved, shared or liked on Instagram in the six-month period before her death, 2,100 related to depression, self-harm or suicide, the inquest heard.

Children’s charity NSPCC said the ruling “must be a turning point”.

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“Tech companies must be held accountable when they don’t make children’s safety a priority,” tweeted the charity.

“This must be a turning point,” it added, stressing that any delay to a government bill dealing with online safety “would be inconceivable to parents”.

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