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Live Audio Rooms and Podcasts on Facebook

Today we’re rolling out Live Audio Rooms and podcasts, as part of our plans to bring social audio experiences to Facebook. Public figures and select Facebook Groups in the US can create Live Audio Rooms on iOS, and select podcasts will be available to listeners in the US. In the coming weeks, we’ll expand the…

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Today we’re rolling out Live Audio Rooms and podcasts, as part of our plans to bring social audio experiences to Facebook. Public figures and select Facebook Groups in the US can create Live Audio Rooms on iOS, and select podcasts will be available to listeners in the US. In the coming weeks, we’ll expand the ability for more public figures and Groups to host a Live Audio Room and introduce new features for both experiences in the coming months.

Live Audio Rooms

Live Audio Rooms on Facebook enable you to discover, listen in on and join live conversations with public figures, experts and others about topics you’re interested in. Public figures can invite friends, followers, verified public figures, or any listeners in the room to be a speaker.  The host can invite speakers in advance or during the conversation. There can be up to 50 speakers, and there’s no limit to the number of listeners.

In Groups, admins can control whether moderators, group members or other admins can create a Live Audio Room. In public Groups, both members and visitors can listen to the Live Audio Room, but in private Groups, only members can listen. 

Live Audio Room hosts can also select a nonprofit or fundraiser to support during their conversation, and listeners and speakers can directly donate.

For illustrative purposes only

People on iOS and Android can discover Live Audio Rooms to join from places like News Feed and via notifications. You can also sign up to be reminded when a Live Audio Room you’re interested in goes live. When listening to a conversation, you’ll be notified when friends or followers join, too. You can enable live captions, “raise a hand” to request to join the conversation, and use reactions to participate in real time. 

Listeners can also offer support and show appreciation to the public figure host of the Live Audio Room by sending Stars, which bumps those listeners up to the “front row.” The “front row” is a special section that highlights people who sent Stars, so hosts can recognize supporters (and maybe even give them a shout out during the conversation!). Listeners can purchase Stars packs during the conversation and send them anytime.

Discover Conversations About Topics You Care About

We’ve partnered with some incredible public figures to roll out Live Audio Rooms. Here’s a preview of some key creators and topics, with more coming soon:

  • Grammy-nominated electronic music artist TOKiMONSTA will discuss female excellence and overcoming obstacles 
  • American football quarterback Russell Wilson will talk about how to train your mind like an elite athlete
  • Organizer, producer, independent journalist and scholar-activist Rosa Clemente will host a discussion around affirming Blackness in the Latinx community
  • Hear what it’s like to live the life of a professional esports player in a Live Audio Room hosted by streamer, entertainer, and internet personality Omareloff
  • Social entrepreneur Amanda Nguyen will speak with fellow changemakers about pursuing justice and making progress in an extraordinarily polarized time

And that’s just the beginning. You can expect to see Live Audio Rooms from other public figures, too, from D Smoke, Kehlani, Reggie Watts, and Lisa Morales Duke, to Dr. Jess, Bobby Berk, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Joe Budden, and DeRay Mckesson

Additionally, you’ll be able to discover and join Live Audio Rooms within Facebook Groups. There will be conversations ranging a variety of topics from learning how dance can help your mental health with the Dance Accepts Everyone group, to finding the best vegan spots across America in a conversation with the Vegan Soul Food group. You can even join a guided meditation within the Meditation Matters group. There will also be Live Audio Rooms hosted by groups like Pow Wow Nation, OctoNation® – The Largest Octopus Fan Club!, and Space Hipsters.

No matter what you’re passionate about, there’s a Live Audio Room waiting for you.

Poster of Live Audio Rooms creators and groups

Podcasts

To start, the initial slate of podcasts will include Joe Budden of The Joe Budden Podcast; “Jess Hilarious” of Carefully Reckless from The Black Effect Podcast Network and iHeartRadio; Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin, and Jac Vanek of the LadyGang; and Nicaila Matthews Okome of Side Hustle Pro. We’ll continue to add more podcasts in the coming weeks.

People can listen to podcasts while browsing Facebook, via a miniplayer or full-screen player experience with playback options, including with their phone display turned off. People can listen to select podcast creators on their Facebook Pages, as well as in News Feed. You’ll have access to a diverse catalog of podcasts and be able to react to, comment, bookmark and share your favorite podcasts.

Later this summer, we’ll roll out additional features, like captions and the ability to create and share short clips of a podcast. Over time, we’ll build more unique social experiences around podcasts that make use of Facebook’s best interactive and personalized features.

Looking Ahead

Live Audio Rooms and podcasts rolling out in the US is just the beginning of our audio journey. Looking ahead, we are working with creators who will use our audio tools to further develop and launch  Soundbites — short-form, creative audio clips. We are excited to partner with this community to refine the Soundbites experience before it launches later this year. We’ll also soon start testing our other audio products like the central listening destination and background audio listening for videos. 

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Accelerate sustainability progress and business growth with Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability — starting June 1

It’s a moment we’ve been building toward — new capabilities from Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability that will enable faster, broader transformation for organizations at varying stages of their sustainability journey. We are pleased to announce the general availability of Cloud for Sustainability on June 1. Now, a growing set of ESG (environmental, social and governance)…

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It’s a moment we’ve been building toward — new capabilities from Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability that will enable faster, broader transformation for organizations at varying stages of their sustainability journey. We are pleased to announce the general availability of Cloud for Sustainability on June 1.

Now, a growing set of ESG (environmental, social and governance) capabilities from Microsoft and our global ecosystem of partners will give organizations the opportunity to accelerate their progress and business growth.

Watch the video.

Turning sustainability commitments into action with better data intelligence

To stabilize our future and build more quickly toward a global net-zero carbon economy, organizations of all types, sizes and sectors are facing the need to transform common practices. This includes more effectively managing their environmental footprint, embedding sustainability through their organizations and value chains, and making strategic business investments that drive value. And this starts with solving a data problem.

Organizations need more accessible, centralized data intelligence to make the high-stakes decisions that are required right now to address complex issues, weighing both business and ESG criteria to direct capital toward investment opportunities that balance growth and impact.

Wherever organizations are in their sustainability journey, together, we can accelerate progress to reach our collective goals.

Microsoft is energized about helping our customers accelerate their progress. Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability solutions will provide the intelligence and data management capabilities organizations need to respond to changes with agility and confidence.

Building on more than a decade of work on sustainability

Our own sustainability journey began when we set our first carbon goal more than a decade ago. This led us to better organize our data and realign our company’s vision and strategy with our sustainability goals. We continue to build on our commitments to innovate and invest in technologies that address environmental sustainability and to transparently share our achievements and setbacks so that we can all learn together. We’re also considering how to deliver on our ESG commitments while continuing to grow our business and drive shareholder value — not an easy challenge!

Now, with the release of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, we’re bringing together powerful capabilities delivered by Microsoft and our partners to help organizations:

Unify data intelligence. To effectively drive sustainability reporting, sustainability efforts, and business transformation, organizations need better visibility into activities across their enterprise and value chain. Collecting and connecting IoT data from devices using sensors — combined with rich services at the edge or in the cloud — provides the basis to monitor and measure activities at scale. And now, Microsoft Sustainability Manager will empower organizations to more easily record, report and reduce their environmental impact through increasingly automated data connections that deliver actionable insights.

This extensible Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability solution centralizes previously disparate data in a common data format and offers organizations an increasingly comprehensive view into the emissions impact of their entire operations and value chain.

Sustainability Manager is available for a free test drive or to purchase June 1.

Build more enduring IT infrastructures. Organizations can reduce their environmental impact and increase business value when they replace tools, systems, or activities with more efficient options. Moving workloads to the cloud, for example, can increase both carbon and energy efficiencies. Emissions Impact Dashboard applications provide Microsoft customers with transparency into emissions produced from their use of Microsoft cloud services. Devices also contribute to an organization’s environmental footprint. Surface devices maximize sustainability of materials and extend product life while minimizing product carbon footprint and energy consumption.

Reduce the environmental impact of operations. With digital solutions delivered through Microsoft and our growing partner ecosystem, we’re already helping organizations maximize asset and production efficiencies, reduce the environmental impact of their buildings and spaces, and advance their transition to clean energy.

Create more sustainable value chains. Digital technologies are also helping organizations facilitate greater transparency and accountability through their value chain, from raw materials to product creation to distribution. A data-first approach can help organizations achieve data integrity and gain the visibility they need to drive efficiencies, reduce emissions and design out waste.

Learn more about how we’re helping organizations achieve positive impact on Microsoft.com/sustainability.

Global partners, a critical piece to extending impact

Much of this important work is being achieved through collaboration with our global ecosystem of partners who have helped us land our ambitions and transform our business. Today, they’re also pivotal to helping customers advance sustainability through robust, innovative solutions powered by the Microsoft Cloud.

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability partner solutions span industries, from transportation to real estate to manufacturing, such as these early solutions that are already in market:

There are many more solutions coming. Our sustainability partner ecosystem also includes trusted advisers like these, who are actively helping organizations plan, design and implement strategies to enable sustainable growth:

Learn more about breakthrough work being done by our sustainability partners on Microsoft AppSource.

What’s next?
Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability availability coincides with Hannover Messe 2022. Watch for news and announcements around this keystone industry event — and stay tuned for additional solutions and capabilities.

Tags: Cloud, Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, sustainability

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Facebook: Giving Senior Dogs Loving Homes

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Celebrating many identities within a global community of impact: An Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month conversation

Srinivas Prasad Sugasani: It’s such fun to connect with you on Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As Asians and Pacific Islanders, I feel that we have so much to celebrate. At the same time, as we think about some of the events and realities that we have navigated recently, I’m curious from your perspective,…

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Srinivas Prasad Sugasani: It’s such fun to connect with you on Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As Asians and Pacific Islanders, I feel that we have so much to celebrate. At the same time, as we think about some of the events and realities that we have navigated recently, I’m curious from your perspective, Jane, what do you feel is different about this past year?

Jane Hesmondhalgh: We’ve continued on our journey of working to create an inclusive culture at Microsoft. And there is still a gap between our aspired culture and everyone’s lived experiences today. For some, that gap may be small; for others it may be larger. But the fact that at Microsoft we have this value system we’re aspiring to is, I think, very much aligned to the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

We’re consistently working toward respect, accountability and high integrity at Microsoft. I would say that our continued work to make progress is not so much different this year, but that we’re focusing even more effort on it.

Unfortunately, this past year we have seen the continued trend of acts of hate toward Asians globally. But the fact that Microsoft is strongly supporting the community in the face of those is super critical for the community. And that much-needed support is not a one-time event where we say something and then we’re on to the next thing. It’s the ongoing recognition that acts against violence, injustice and inequities across the world are unacceptable.

SPS: That’s right. We’ve also been focused on community education in the wake of this alarming rise in acts of hate and violence — how the community can leverage safety practices, and how can we work with the local government communities to increase safety.

JH: Our Inclusion Council has also been really engaged in these discussions. Other examples of sustained commitment to the community include the events we’ve done to engage with external experts in ongoing learning such as Microsoft Include, and of course the support of our Asians at Microsoft Employee Resources Group (ERG). I have heard from the community specifically that one of the most powerful things they’ve attended this year are our community calls, where people have had the opportunity to talk through how they’re feeling with others who may have experienced similar things.

SPS: Based on what we heard from our community, we’ve also been increasingly focused on how we strengthen and support the advancement of the ERG and its members at the company. I am really proud of how we’ve been working with outside experts on leadership development across the company, all the way from entry-level employees to the most senior in the company. This is the kind of year-round investment that is directly benefiting the community.

JH: I’m so passionate about this piece — the leadership education for Asians and Pacific Islanders. When I started as the sponsor for the Asians ERG, that was the No. 1 feedback, that the community wanted unique and tailored leadership education.

As we know, there are 4.7 billion people in this broad community across the world. Asians and Pacific Islanders make up 60% of the world population. That really strikes me. Because within that, there are so many different perspectives. So, a question for you is, how do we ensure that different types of conversations and perspectives from the entire community are brought in?

SPS: As you said — 60% of the global population! And we are trying to represent diversity within the community at that scale. It’s actually one of our strategic pillars in our ERG — including all community members. I think we’re doing a really good job with that. The leadership team has ensured that we include many voices, and as a result of that diversity of thought, we’ve seen new steps and actions being taken. For example, we had an Asians ERG art exhibition. We had a day of remembrance where people could talk about their practices, cultures, ancestors. We had a stand-up comedy event. And we’ve focused specifically on women inventors. Those are just a few examples.

So, focusing on the many dimensions of identity within our global community ensures that we can all share our experiences and learn from each other.

JH: This leads me to reflect on the word “community” and what does that mean? With a global team located all over the world, how do we bring everybody together in a sense of community? At Microsoft the community is a combination of people, cultures and beliefs. So, I think that community piece is our connection to the history across the Asia Pacific region. Within this vast land mass, we can appreciate and understand the differences and uniqueness of the people in the sub-communities and societies. We talked earlier about Microsoft’s culture and values. I think one thing that helps us is that Asian values around integrity and respect are very similar to the company’s. And then of course we go beyond respect to actually celebrating our cultures. Each of our ERG chapters and groups, each culture, is a contribution that is valuable to the world.

And these values are actually critical for the work ahead, right? This year, next year and beyond, we want to tackle the biggest problems that divide us as a society. And we’ve got that microcosm of society within our Asian and Pacific Islander community. We can play a huge role in landing the mindset of interconnectivity and learning both within and outside the company. Each person must be committed to driving positive change, be more intentionally inclusive in the workplace and build our empathy. With this, we can build momentum to meet the challenges of the world.

SPS: Well said Jane. As you’re speaking, I’m thinking about my own personal journey as well. Part of my life I lived on a farm in a small village. I experienced a community there where everybody looked like me, spoke like me with a very similar kind of language. When I lived in various cities, that was the first time I’d experienced people looking like me but speaking different dialects.

And then when I started working on a multinational level, I encountered people who had such a range of cultural differences from me. What I’ve learned is whether it is living in a village, in a small community or at the global level, human values remain the same. I’ve realized more recently that as things become more complex, more turbulent, and we do not know what future will hold, the constant is the values that we all stand for. And that is true across the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and all across Microsoft and our nine ERGs and many dimensions of identities.

JH: You know, I never thought about it in this way but because you shared a little bit about your own background, I’ll share something about when we moved from the U.S. back to the U.K. In his new school, my son felt left out, and suddenly struggled with questions around “I am British, but do they think I am American or Chinese?” He didn’t feel that sense of belonging, and all these new questions of identity came up which he held to himself. Things did get better, but it reminds me that it’s all of our responsibility to help each other understand that while people are different, everybody has something to offer. People need to feel like they’re valued and that they can contribute without being judged.

SPS: It is so true. Thank you for sharing that. Are there any misperceptions about the Asian and Pacific Islander community that you would like to address?

JH: I’ve heard people say things like, gosh Asians are good at math and science, and they have an easier entry to STEM fields and occupations. I don’t know that I would ever categorize it as easier or not easier. There are many Asians who are not good at math and science, right? It’s a generalization, and there are a lot of these.

Another misconception is that because the Asian population is large, there are a lot of Asian leaders. But actually, the statistics have shown that we’re the least likely of all racial groups to become managers and executives. We need more role models and pathways to that senior level, which is where those development efforts we spoke about earlier come in. And of course, some other misconceptions came up during the pandemic around Chinese people.

So again, what combats these types of misconceptions and harmful stereotypes is learning and building our understanding and empathy for one another.

SPS: I absolutely agree. We will continue this work with the Microsoft communities and our leadership. I look forward to the impact we will make in the coming year. Thank you so much, Jane, for the chance to have this conversation. I look forward to our celebrations and recognition this month!

JH: Thank you, Srinivas! Happy Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Tags: diversity, inclusion

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