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Clubhouse App: What You Need to Know

The audio chat app Clubhouse saw a massive spike in new users from 1st – 16th February as downloads increased by almost five million across the globe. From May 2020 to January 2021, its value leapt from $100 million to $1 billion, reflecting its growth in popularity.

But what exactly is Clubhouse and, more importantly, is it safe?

Here’s a quick rundown of the latest social media app attracting all the attention.

What is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is an invite-only, drop-in audio chat app that features a variety of ‘clubs’ and ‘virtual rooms’ that users can drop into to join the conversation. These rooms hold conversations on a range of topics such as talk shows, music, and politics.

The invite-only function means users must either be invited into a room or plant themselves on the waiting list. When they are granted entry, they are given the opportunity to invite two other users.

It was launched in April 2020 and is currently only available on Apple products. However, the makers, Alpha Exploration Co., have stated they are working on an Android version.

At the time of writing, it is ranked #8 in the App Store’s top free social networking category.

Its sudden appearance into the spotlight was spurred when Elon Musk hosted a conversation on the app with Robinhood CEO, Vlad Tenev. Other celebrity users include Drake, Kevin Hart, and Tiffany Haddish.

Who is Clubhouse for?

As per the app’s terms and conditions, users must be 18 years or older to join. However, social networking apps have recently faced pressure to improve their age-verification processes after an Irish study found children of all ages can bypass these measures and become members.

Is the Clubhouse app safe?

The increasingly popular app is already raising privacy concerns – even for those who haven’t downloaded it! Why? The app creates ‘shadow accounts’ of people who have never used the app but are in the contacts of people who do.

When users are granted their two invites, they are presented with their phonebook contacts and urged to invite them to Clubhouse, even if these contacts are not members themselves.

The contacts are listed in order of how many of their friends are on Clubhouse, meaning the app has not only accessed these people’s names and phone numbers, but has run checks on how many times they appear in the contacts of other Clubhouse users.

Just this month, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations condemned the app for violating data protection, claiming it breaches GDPR.

The app has raised further concerns for its practice of recording conversations, even if they are in private rooms. However, its creators have stated this is so it may thoroughly investigate claims of abuse.

What are its guidelines?

Clubhouse sets out a list of guidelines for users to abide by in order to use the service. These guidelines ban “abuse, bullying, or harassment of any person or groups of people”. The guidelines also specifically state users “may not share, threaten to share, or incentivise the sharing of other people’s private information without their prior permission”.

You can see a full list of its guidelines here.

For more information on Clubhouse, including its features and online risks, check out our free guide that has been developed by social media expert and digital media consultant, Parven Kaur, presenting everything you need to know about the latest social networking app. Why not also check out our full range of online safety courses and webinars.