You might’ve heard your favorite influencer or blog page posting or talking about it on Youtube or Instagram, or saw a friend on Facebook putting up a status or meme saying something about it, either way, you’ve been left wondering what exactly is this new social media app named Clubhouse that you’ve been hearing about?
Although some people already know about the relatively new app, most people are not well familiarized with it.
Created by Rohan Seth and Paul Davidson, Clubhouse is an invite-only, audio social media app where users can join chat rooms and listen to others have conversations and dialogues on various topics. The conversations are audio-only, and when they finish, they disappear forever.
In the app, users can enter into different rooms to listen to or participate in a conversation. They’re able to see exactly who is in each chat room, and can also see the profiles of the participants. The person who creates a particular chat room, is the one with the authority to allow speaking privileges to all of the participants.
Just like at a real social event, users can start off in the main room with many other people, and then break into smaller groups for side conversations. There is no requirement to speak in a chat room if you don’t want to.
Conversations in the chat rooms can vary from light and casual conversations, to the more serious ones that tend to have a major impact on society and the world. The app can be looked at as one big conference call on whatever topic piques your interest, like financial advice, music industry guidance, spiritual heath, police and criminal justice reform, relationships, and anything you can imagine depending on the person moderating.
The new invite-only voice-based social media app, is still in beta testing, which means the apps functionality, usability, reliability, and compatibility are still being tested and is still not available for public use. The app so far, is said to be limited to mostly the public figures and celebrities that have connections to Silicon Valley’s tech world.
The makers of the app, who are inducting about a dozen new users every day, still want to maintain the exclusivity of the app as they monitor how well the company can execute the goal for the app, which is to foster communication and human connection among a steadily-growing audience. In order to join the app, you have to be invited by someone who is already on the platform.
A waiting list has been created where you can register a username on the App Store, while waiting to be accepted. Without an invite there isn’t much you can do after that.
Clubhouse, who has investments from American venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, was worth $100 million in May 2020 around the time that it started out with about 1,500 users. The app currently has over 50k downloads on the Google Play Store.
As testing on the app unfolds and the enrollment of users progress, it’s still to be seen if the app is as good as it’s buzz or if it’s just being hyped up by its exclusivity.
A series of of hip hop celebrities and high profile figures like Kevin Hart, Meek Mill and TIDAL’s chief content officer, Elliott Wilson have taking a liking to the platform and showed support for it. Meek Mill has went as far as tweeting out that he’d like to know how to invest into the platform.
The founders of Clubhouse have made it clear that it isn’t necessarily their intention on keeping its user base exclusive and limited and is only doing so while being meticulous with the rollout of the app as a whole: “We are building Clubhouse for everyone and working to make it available to the world as quickly as possible. It’s not intended to be exclusive; we just aren’t ready to ship the general release version yet. “We think it’s important to grow communities slowly, rather than 10x-ing the user base overnight. This helps ensure that things don’t break, keeps the composition of the community diverse, and allows us to tune the product as it grows.”
Clubhouse Critics & Controversy
According to Bloomberg, there was a conversation in late September called “Anti-Semitism and Black Culture,” which several attendees said invoked negative Jewish stereotypes. The moderator of the conversation, Ashoka Finley, apologized on Twitter.
Critics of the app are suggesting that it’s important that the makers of the app look into implementing strong community guidelines and zero-tolerance policies for hate speech towards women, minorities and other marginalized groups, in order for Clubhouse to maintain its credibility.
Clubhouse has received some criticism so far for people who have created chat rooms under false names, and chat rooms that have people who have engaged in prejudice conversations towards particular groups and races. This has prompted users to call on the platform to enforce a real name policy as a start to weed out any possible prejudices towards any minority or attacked group, so at the least, every person is held accountable for their words and opinions.
Effective moderation is something that many social media networks struggle with, and is one that will likely prove to be a challenge for Clubhouse also.
In an October 1 blog post, Clubhouse responded to some of these issues and laid out steps it intends to take to ameliorate them. “We unequivocally condemn Anti-Blackness, Anti-Semitism, and all other forms of racism, hate speech, and abuse on Clubhouse,” they wrote.
The startup assured that “incident reports” are investigated and acted upon when necessary, and that it is working on both “building a team of advisors,” and making the reporting function “more real-time, specific, and robust.”
Going forward, they said they are training more moderators and giving them better tools to keep things in order, and having the creator of respective chat rooms create rules that participants must agree to when they join.
Clubhouse’s Celebrity Users
One of the main ways Clubhouse has been able to create a quick buzz is by getting A-listers in different industries to use it. They’ve also been able to effectively market the app to the hip hop community by extending the exclusivity of the app to members of the hip hop community, black creators and artists.
Some black celebrities that have been linked to the app are Kevin Hart, Oprah, 21 Savage, Chris Rock, Joe Budden, Van Jones and MC Hammer. Other popular names include Hannibal Buress, Ashton Kutcher, Mark Cuban, Jared Leto, and reportedly even Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Some of the apps celebrity users have spearheaded conversations within chat rooms, others just come through to hang around and listen to the conversations.
Multiple Clubhouse users have came out and said that Meek Mill and 21 Savage are two of the apps most entertaining hosts on the platform. Popular YouTube influencer Kevin Samuels recently hosted a chat on the viral video that involved him telling a woman that she was the type of woman to die alone if she wasn’t willing to settle for an average guy.
Only time will tell what we’ll get from Clubhouse, the chatting app that may soon have the world talking.