• Hollyn Gayle

What is Clubhouse?

Have you been seeing posts offering invites to the app Clubhouse? We’ve offered invites to Clubhouse before. Wonder what all the buzz is about? Have you tried to join Clubhouse, and the app won’t let you move past creating a username? We have the info on this up and coming social media platform.


What Is It?

Clubhouse is an invite only audio based social media platform. They call themselves “a new type of social product based on voice [that] allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world." Okay so … what does that actually mean? When you enter the app, you can join different “rooms” where conversations are already going on. Whoever started the room decides who can join the conversation. Users can raise their hands indicating they want to join the conversation in hopes that the moderator will allow them to join. Everything is through audio clips. Audio clips that aren’t saved or recorded by the app for people to listen back to. The app is unique because no text is used. No statuses are posted and there isn’t a chat room going on at the same time as the audio discussion. Clubhouse cultivates free flowing conversations about a myriad of topics, while connecting people from all over the world in a casual, camera free setting.


Who Uses the App?

In regards to user number, Clubhouse is a very small app. As of December 2020, Clubhouse only had 600,000 users while Facebook sits at a 2.7 billion users. Clubhouse has such a small user number because it requires an invite, and current users of the app only have a limited number of invites to pass out. You start with one invite, and if you stick around, Clubhouse will eventually reward you with three more invites - meaning you can only bring a total of 4 additional users to the platform. This pretty much explains why Clubhouse’s numbers are still so small even with the app’s popularity and celebrity users. Oprah, Jared Leto, Kevin Hart, Drake, Chris Rock, and Ashton Kutcher are all voices you might hear popping in and out of rooms on Clubhouse.


Controversy Around the App

First and foremost, the app is audio only. That’s a big red flag in regards to accessibility. If you’re a social media user without hearing, this app is essentially useless to you and you can’t engage on the platform. Also because there is no saved record of the audio for users to review, there is very little accountability for what is said on Clubhouse. Unless someone takes it upon themselves to record the conversation, there is no way to quote who said what. This has lead to racist, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic conversations to occur on the app. And because there is not text chat room or like/dislike button, the users in a room who don’t have permission to speak have no way to show that they disapprove of what is being said. Whoever is in power controls the conversation. In response to accusations of hate speech on their platform Clubhouse cofounders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth said, “We believe in the unique power of voice to build empathy, and see Clubhouse as a place where people with different perspectives, backgrounds and lived experiences broaden their understanding and evolve their worldviews. The company unequivocally condemns all forms of racism, hate speech, and abuse, as noted in our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service, and has trust and safety procedures in place to investigate and address any violation of these rules.”


Should You Join?

Clubhouse is so new that no one really knows what the future of the app will hold. If you are an iPhone user, you can download the app from the app store and reserve your username. This action will notify any contacts you have on the app that you’ve reserved a username. They can then decide if they want to use one of their invites on you. We’re not gonna lie … this process does feel a little elitist and toxic, kind of like Top Friends on MySpace back in the day. There’s no harm in reserving your username though. As Clubhouse grows and eventually makes the decision to go public, they’ll have to start policing their platform and making it more accessible. The conversation through only the voice is an intriguing idea. It will definitely allow people to read tone, not just words, which will hopefully lead to more understanding. But until everyone can access the conversation, and access without fear of hate speech, the platform has lots of work to do.


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