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March, 2021
By Ani T.

What's The Truth Behind Clubhouse?

What's The Truth Behind Clubhouse?

Clubhouse – controversial invitation-only audio chat app launched in April 2020 sparked a lot of curiosity. Despite being released last year, it gained a lot of popularity during the past months. It is an app where anyone can host and join rooms where they talk, tell stories or give out lectures. This exclusive software has attracted many celebrities, famous and influential people, including Oprah, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin Hart, and Drake. You can hear these people and participate in their rooms, which is one huge reason the app is becoming more and more popular. People say that the audio feels more intimate and authentic than a textual app. They also feel more comfortable talking from their home without thinking about their visual presentation. 

Privacy & Clubhouse

According to data protection experts, Clubhouse violates General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). To join the application, you need to have an invite, making it almost impossible for some people to create an account. Once you register, you can invite up to three people only if you permit the app to access your contacts. In which case, Clubhouse will show you the people in your contact list who use the app and force you to invite those who don't. It seems that Clubhouse might be using this information to make up a database of people who haven't joined. So even if you're not interested in joining, there's a big chance the software still has details like your name, phone number, and the number of your friends that are on the app. Clubhouse is only available on iOS, and their privacy policy is solely in English, which is causing a lot of backlash from android users and non-English speakers. The Federation of German Consumer Organizations' executive director, Klaus Muller, has warned Clubhouse it would face penalties if it does not deal with its data privacy problems. 

The Stanford Internet Observatory discovered that Agora, the Shanghai company that supplies back-end infrastructure to the Clubhouse app, stores their users' and chatroom ID and then transmits it in plaintext, therefore Agora most likely has access to users raw audio, potentially providing access to the Chinese government.

Discrimination and Data Spillage

People have come across rooms full of hate, discrimination, misogyny, racism, homophobia, sexism, and transphobia, and despite countless complaints and reports, Clubhouse struggles to act accordingly. There have even been data spillages, where the audios, the app is obligated to protect lawfully, resurfaced on the internet.

What is The Future of Clubhouse?

Apple has gotten backlash for numerous reasons in the past, the biggest one being their privacy problems. In 2019 Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek filed an antitrust complaint against Apple, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed their concerns about how it harms small businesses and developers. Clubhouse seems to be another privacy problem of Apple, and its success is bound to disappear soon enough if Apple doesn't resolve it.

According to a town hall meeting hosted by Clubhouse CEO Paul Davidson, the app currently has 10 million users, and the number continues to grow rapidly, despite countless sources and allegations about the application's lack of trustworthiness. Do you use Clubhouse, and have you ever faced the mentioned problems? And if so, will you keep using it even after all those issues?

 


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