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Have you heard of Clubhouse? Here’s what you need to know about the exclusive audio social media app


By Sarah Finnan
10th May 2021

Getty

Have you heard of Clubhouse? Here’s what you need to know about the exclusive audio social media app

With users like Oprah, Kanye West and Ashton Kutcher Clubhouse has quickly become a unicorn, but at what cost? The app that first rose to prominence earlier last year, has hit the headlines once more, and not for the best of reasons either.

An audio-based social media platform, Clubhouse has been all over the internet in recent weeks. Straight out of Silicon Valley, the app has been referred to as “the next big thing” on more than one occasion – a description its majority high-profile celebrity clientele seems to give credence to. 

Feigning exclusivity by hiding behind the buzz its invite-only exterior creates, cracks have slowly been appearing on the surface and, safe to say, users are less than impressed with what they’ve found beneath. 

So, what exactly is Clubhouse? 

Founded by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, Clubhouse is a voice-based app where users can create or join voice chat rooms. Once in a chat room, users can listen to a wide variety of conversations on any number of topics, giving their own two cents through the “raise hand” feature. In Guardian writer Rafqa Touma’s own words, it’s “part talkback radio, part conference call, part Houseparty”. 

How can I join?

Only existing users can invite others to join the platform, and they must grant the app full access to their contacts to do so. Endorsed by Elon Musk and later Bill Gates, Clubhouse already has several well-known names amongst its user base including the likes of Kanye West, Oprah, Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Hart to name but a few. It may not sound like your sort of thing, but the chance to rub shoulders with the celebs might convince you otherwise… 

Why is it controversial? 

Simply put, issues range from privacy to data breaches to abuse and content moderation. Already with quite a few courtroom debacles under its belt, the barely one-year-old app has definitely ruffled some feathers in its existence thus far. 

Forced to implement community moderation guidelines in response to several incidents in which hate speech was allowed to circulate unchecked on the platform, the latest scandal to arise involves American actor LaKeith Stanfield, who issued a lengthy apology after details of an anti-Semitic chat he was a moderator on came to light. 

Where can I get it? 

Initially only available on iOS, Clubhouse has just launched an Android version of the app too. Working to collect feedback from users, fix any issues that may arise and then focus their attention on “rolling it out more broadly”, creators hope to make the app more readily available very soon. So, while it remains invite-only for now, it may not be that way for much longer. 

Can I delete my account? 

Getting onto the app is one thing, getting off it quite another. Keen to prevent users from leaving, the “delete account” feature was a bit of a rigamarole with people only able to do so by emailing the company directly. That’s since changed though, and the process is much more straightforward now – you can delete your profile by going into account settings in the app itself.

What do you think, will you be trying to scrape up an invite from somewhere?