What is Clubhouse, the app everyone’s talking about?
Anyone who is even moderately online has probably been hearing a lot lately about Clubhouse. For those in the dark, Clubhouse is an app that’s been generating quite a lot of buzz. However, as with any emerging technology, there are equal amounts of excitement and skepticism surrounding the app. So what is Clubhouse exactly? If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, we’ll break down all you need to know.
WHAT IS CLUBHOUSE?
An audio-chat social-networking app, Clubhouse allows users to “listen in to conversations, interviews, and discussions” according to The Guardian. Much like an exclusive club, the app is invitation-only. Users choose from a variety of topics and link to chatrooms and other users interested in those topics.
Once you join the app, you can choose between three roles: Moderator, Speaker, or Listener. In the Moderator role, you are the one starting and controlling a conversation. You have influence over how the conversation flows and authority to reprimand and block anyone abusing the rules. As a Speaker, you begin the conversation and invite others to speak as well. As a Listener, you can sit back and enjoy the conversation and explore other chatrooms while you wait.
HOW DO I GET INVITED TO CLUBHOUSE?
An existing Clubhouse user who has your phone number must invite you to join. They can send you an invitation as a text containing a link that leads to an account signup page. For now, existing users can send only two invites. Therefore, those with the app must choose wisely whom they wish to invite.
CAN I JOIN A WAITING LIST FOR A CLUBHOUSE INVITATION?
If you have an iPhone, you can download the app without an invitation. But it likely will be a long wait until you can open an account. Clubhouse’s CEO, Paul Davidson, hopes the app will be open to all, including Android users, after beta testing.
WHY HAS CLUBHOUSE GOTTEN SO POPULAR?
Though the app has been around since March 2020, Elon Musk helped it go viral after a chat with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev in February 2021. This almost instantly boosted the overall usership from a measly 1,500 to more than 2 million. With such a dramatic rise in support, the app is now worth $1 billion.
Much of the support surrounding the app is due to its focus on collaboration and using a person’s voice as a platform. With most social media, there’s a sense of vanity around follower counts and likes. Clubhouse eliminates all of that.
WHAT CELEBRITIES ARE USING CLUBHOUSE?
According to Business Insider, most of Clubhouse’s hosts are “experts, luminaries, celebrities, venture capitalists, journalists, and more.” Among these are Mark Zuckerberg, MC Hammer, Scooter Braun, Aston Kutcher, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Jared Leto and Oprah.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE DANGERS OF USING CLUBHOUSE?
While the app’s website claims Clubhouse “was designed to be a space for authentic conversation and expression” and urges respect and inclusivity, some users claim the app is anything but a safe space.
Female users have reported incidents of harassment and bullying. As with most social media, journalists are experiencing “anti-media” attacks. And many conversations descend into racist rants, anti-Semitic attacks and Covid-19 denial. Despite emphasis on free speech, Davidson stresses that Clubhouse “unequivocally condemns all forms of racism, hate speech, and abuse” according to Vanity Fair.
WHAT COMPLAINTS DO CLUBHOUSE USERS HAVE?
Barry Collins, writing for Forbes.com, detailed his experience using Clubhouse. He warns that the app accesses and reviews users’ contacts, rating them by how many friends they have on the app. Essentially, Clubhouse urges you to expand not only your social circle, but their amount of users.
Collins also says the Clubhouse app records voice chats. The company guidelines state recording is “solely for the purpose of supporting incident investigations” and later deletes it once an investigation ends. But privacy hawks are voicing their concerns over the “judge and juror” status the app claims for itself.
Discussing their experiences with Vanity Fair, journalists report that many conversations structured around forming a dialogue around a specific social issue quickly descent into the promotion of “racist ideas under the guise of posing legitimate questions or playing devil’s advocate.” Those with the most popularity or influence quickly take center stage, “and so you become hostage to their worldview.”
An anonymous user emphasized that Clubhouse has “no visible disclaimers to counter misinformation” and therefore like with all social media platforms, can easily be used as a tool to spread falsities and ignorance.