The latest social media unicorn, Clubhouse is all the rage right now, especially after Elon Musk (perhaps he needs a new platform after leaving Twitter, after causing a stock market frenzy with his tweets) practically gave his stamp of approval. Two weeks after his audio appearance, the app’s users skyrocketed from 3.5 million to 8.1 million. It seems like anyone who has heard of it wants in the club, despite the glaring privacy issues.
“Wired” magazine recently reported that the “Stanford Internet Observatory put a spotlight on the platform when they found that the app was transmitting users’ Clubhouse identifiers and chatroom identity numbers unencrypted, meaning that a third party could have potentially tracked your actions in the app.”
To gain access to this uber-exclusive app, you need to a) be an iPhone user, and b) get an invitation from someone that’s already on the platform. According to the latest post from Clubhouse, the Android version is definitely in the works. They just don’t have an exact date for it.
One might argue that the app’s saving grace is its FOMO-inducing level of exclusivity. But for a lot of its avid users, once you make it on the app, it’s the real-time, in-depth conversations that keep users online.
Conversations span from how to find love online to insights from industry specialists. Simply put, there’s practically everything under the sun in Clubhouse. There might be a conversation that’s going on right now on the most random topics you can think of. (As I am writing this, there’s a room where speakers are defending their rights to wear socks when they go to sleep.)
Some pointed out the fact that the app is just gentrified Discord, but it is the users that makes the app what it is. Discord has made a name for itself in the gaming community. Clubhouse, on the other hand, has branded itself as a space where industry giants take to the airwaves with small-time enthusiasts keeping an ear out for insightful bits of information. The stakes aren’t as high as an international conference, giving the conversations a more casual edge.
A friend, who also happens to be co-founder of an agency, swears by the platform, claiming that she’s made the shift from her favourite podcasts to Clubhouse discussions. Apart from the ad-free advantage, the app has opened new avenues for her, business-wise. Now, she gets to pop into a room and just drop a question for panels that are more than ready to share. The question now is if those tidbits of information will actually translate to anything material for the business.
Despite all the good that the platform has to offer, there will be those that will use it to advance their sinister agendas. Such incidents have been reported, and they leave those affected highly distressed. Speakers can also spout points that oftentimes go unchecked, possibly leading to more misinformation and fake news. China has banned Clubhouse, while Thailand has warned its local users about the potential of distorted information. It seems like not everyone is appreciating the lack of social filter that is synonymous with the app.
With all the red flags and warnings, the app continues to grow and gain popularity, even in beta mode. This may be the impact of Covid-related loneliness, but no one can deny that the trend is slowly but surely shifting towards the audio. Even Twitter is entering the aural fray, with Instagram enhancing its live features to allow for up to four people per broadcast.
We have yet to explore the app in its entirety, seeing that it is still in its beta-testing phase. But if it’s US$1 billion valuation is anything to go by, it seems like Clubhouse is lined up to be the next TikTok.
Yet this question remains: Do we really need another social media app? This article alone has mentioned 5, without even delving into the giant Facebook. Do it’s 10 million users have no concerns over who may be listening to them? And finally, will this be Trump’s next platform?