Privacy and security
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Director - Social Purpose Programs, For Good and TELUS Wise
Everyone is talking about it, and an exclusive, invite-only group are talking on it.
Clubhouse, a free voice-based social media app (often referred to as a social audio app), is the latest hype that’s attracting celebs and Silicon Valley insiders. Launched in March 2020 just as the world was shutting down and isolation forced people even deeper into cyber connections -- Clubhouse already boasts 4.7 million downloads.
The likes of Oprah, Drake, Elon Musk, Chris Rock and Mark Cuban have taken to “rooms” on the app to talk with followers publicly. Designed as a space for authentic conversation and expression, Clubhouse lets users schedule conversations or create open rooms anyone can join if interested.
The first two people to join a room are automatically labeled as “speakers.” The remaining users are “listeners,” who the speakers can invite to talk. Select users are also designated as “moderators,” who control and set the rules for the audio chat room. It’s like a live podcast, but listeners have the option to join in the conversation.
The audio-only app is currently only available for iOS. The exclusivity of an invitation-only app is only adding to the hype and demand.
The “open” format offers great opportunities for curiosity, debate and discussion. According to Clubhouse, “the world is not a monoculture, and we want Clubhouse to reflect that. Ideally the experience is more like a town square, where people with different backgrounds, religions, political affiliations, sexual orientations, genders, ethnicities and ideas about the world come together to share their views, be heard and learn.”
But it is difficult to moderate and track what is being said when people are talking to each other instead of recording ideas and opinions in text. The content is shared live. There is no opportunity to record or playback. So it’s not surprising that there have been complaints about hate speech, racism and harassment, which Clubhouse addresses in its Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. To maintain the integrity of the community, Clubhouse commits to taking action on all incident reports. It is also scaling its safety and trust operations by adding advisors, engaging with the community, growing its team and shipping new safety features.
In a blog post, On Community Moderation, Clubhouse states:
“Our hope for Clubhouse is that it can be a new type of network based on empathy, discussion and sense making, rather than polarization. We think social media needs more of this.”
Security and privacy are both works in progress. Parents take note -- according to Clubhouse’s rules, users must be 18 years of age or older. Security provider Avast points out in this blog post that there is no age checking or content/topic filter on the app. With adult topics and rooms full of strangers, Clubhouse is not for kids. Period.
Clubhouse has plans in place to continue creating intentional gathering spaces that cater to many interests and styles. As the app evolves, it plans to introduce the ability for club founders to write rules specific to a club’s values, norms and codes of conduct. Both members and non-members will be asked to accept the rules before participating in any discussion. Moderator training is also in the works.
With all the hype around Clubhouse as the next social media disruptor, it’s only a matter of time before anyone can use it. Like every social media app, there is a trade off between connection and engagement and security and privacy. Educate yourself so you can make choices that are right for you and your family.
To learn more about staying safe in our digital world, explore TELUS Wise online workshops for youth, adults and parents.
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