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Twitter tests Spaces, an audio-only chatroom

Twitter has revealed more details about its experimental “Spaces” feature that lets users jump into audio-only chatrooms.

Compared widely to the Clubhouse app that launched earlier this year, Spaces lets you discuss your thoughts and opinions with followers using speech instead of text. Testing has just started with “a very small” feedback group, the company said on Thursday, December 17.

Of course, for a platform known to have issues with abuse and harassment, many folks may choose to give Spaces a wide berth, concerned that it’ll be full of angry folks shouting at each other.

But Twitter believes the very nature of Spaces could actually diffuse some of the fury that permeates the platform and encourage people to engage in a more respectful manner.

“The human voice can bring a layer of connectivity to Twitter through emotion, nuance, and empathy often lost in text,” the company said in one of a flurry of tweets this week. “We see this with voice tweets and voice DMs. Sometimes 280 isn’t enough, and voice gives people another way to join the conversation.”

The feature lets anyone create a Space for their followers and others to join. The person who creates the Space has full control over who can and cannot speak in the chatroom, which should prevent a session becoming too chaotic if lots of people are in attendance.

Twitter says it imagines “the best Spaces to feel like a well-hosted dinner party … you don’t need to know everyone to have a great time, but everyone feels comfortable at the table. We wanted Spaces to have that magic feeling, too.”

During the test phase, Spaces will try out reactions similar to hand gestures, and also live transcriptions so that it’s easier to follow conversations.

Should a “dinner party” get out of hand and descend into a quarrel, the host will also be able to block and report anyone in the virtual room. Sharing tweets within Spaces may also be possible.

The addition of Spaces would be a big change for Twitter, though it’s been edging in that direction since it started testing voice tweets and direct messages earlier this year.

As ever with such tests, there’s no guarantee that Spaces will become a permanent part of Twitter. But if the trial runs smoothly and the feature shows promise, expect to see it launch sometime next year.

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