Instagram Live Rooms put a unique spin on Clubhouse rivalry

Clubhouse has become social media's newest darling and, naturally, everyone's out to copy and kill it. Those rivals actually have a lot of opportunities to do that, considering Clubhouse still has limited reach in terms of invites and platforms. That said, not everyone wants to copy it feature for feature and some are trying to put a different spin on the audio-only social platform. That includes Facebook-owned Instagram that just silently rolled out an audio-only option to its shiny new Live Rooms.

Instagram Live Rooms itself is a special version of Instagram Live. While the latter lets a host speak with one other Instagram user, Live Rooms can have three for a total of four live video feeds. In both cases, however, the audience remains a passive and voiceless group that can only interact through text typed in the chat.

Mashable reports that Instagram just pushed a simple new feature that turns Live into an audio-only affair. Hosts will have the option to turn off their video and partly recreate the Clubhouse experience. Ironically, they can also just mute their audio, which probably has more limited applications.

It isn't exactly a Clubhouse clone, of course, because nothing changes for those tuning into the Live feed. Clubhouse and its new rivals allow the audience to participate in the discussion with their voice, at least depending on the host that controls the session. For now, Instagram is positioning it simply as a way to lessen the pressure on users to look their best just to connect with their friends or fans.

Facebook does have other endeavors designed to whittle away some of the market share from Clubhouse while it's still young. Those include a recent announcement of "social audio" features coming to its main platforms as well as experimental apps and services like the Q&A-oriented Hotline.