A startup just launched over the weekend is giving an added voice to the world of social networking.
Arzoola’s Social Call lets you make and receive free VOIP-powered calls through social network-specific apps. What sets it apart from other services is the fact that it lets you do so anonymously: Users give out their phone numbers only to Arzoola, which then masks them from public view.
“We simply act as an intermediary, shielding the phone numbers from each party,” CEO Roie Edery explained to The Inquisitr. “Instead of posting your phone number online, you substitute it with our ‘Call Me’ link.”
The first application, launched Saturday, is designed with Craigslist in mind. You just go to Arzoola’s web site, enter your phone number, zip code, and an expiration time (i.e. only accept calls for two days) — then it gives you code to post within your listing. The code lets anyone click to call you without ever gaining access to your phone number. While the tool is being marketed specifically for use on Craigslist, it could be used anywhere you can post HTML embed code — on a MySpace profile, for example, or on a blog where you wanted to receive calls for a limited period of time without divulging your digits.
Next up is an app for Facebook, which Edery tells us will be launching “very soon” — likely within the next week or two, pending the network’s approval. It will add a “Call Me” button directly below your profile picture and will let you specify what days and times to let calls be patched through.
All the applications use a business-grade VOIP carrier. As of now, the calls are totally ad-free. Edery says that could change in the future — but end users will always be able to use the service free-of-charge.
“Our focus is to provide this service for free,” he said. “Once adoption picks up, it is our intent to enable our audio advertising platform. Basically, while a user is on hold waiting for us to call the other party, they will hear an ad.”
Arzoola’s Social Call will also eventually offer premium services such as voicemail and number-free text messaging, Edery tells us.
Our vote: A smart service with strong potential. The Facebook/MySpace/Bebo apps could draw people in and provide a powerful and convenient social function without the typical privacy concerns. The HTML-driven function, though, is what strikes us as most intriguing about Social Call. It’d be a huge plus to be able to receive calls on a public posting for a limited window, without having to throw your actual number on the page for the world to see. The blogosphere could stand to benefit from its embeddable functionability — think of the easy-to-click “news tip hotlines” or “talk with me now” features that could be set up to let visitors dial a blogger’s cell phone during certain hours, without him having to publicly post the number.