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If you’re a part of the tech bubble or even have a device connected to the internet in your vicinity, chances are you’ve probably heard about Clubhouse. Clubhouse is a voice-only, real-time social networking app developed by Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth and distributed by Alpha Exploration Co.
As 2020 began, Clubhouse was merely an idea. But as the development of the app completed, it was released exclusively to iOS in April 2020. 5 months after the release of the app, it had less than 5 thousand daily users and was successful in securing $12 million in funding. The app had its big break in January 2021 when Elon Musk hosted a room with Vladimir Tenev, the CEO of Robinhood app about the stock market. This was ideal for the app's growth because the two prominent figures were having an uncensored talk on a controversial topic at the time.
Clubhouse can be described as a fusion of podcasts and public conventions. Everyone can join and leave a “room” whenever they want without disturbing any of the speakers or listeners. Rooms can be created by anyone and can amass a maximum of 1500 people at a time. In the post-COVID world, we’re living in this is a major benefit to anyone using the app be it a speaker or listener. Moreover, Clubhouse doesn’t require the user to be looking at the screen at all times. This made it ideal for people who like to multitask and/or have a hectic schedule.
“Its features seem fine but, why the hype though?” you might ask. The Clubhouse team has applied a plethora of tactics to make having a Clubhouse seem like an achievement. Being an invite-only platform itself brings a sense of exclusivity to the app but the Clubhouse team also controls invitations and creates a scarcity of it to retain its public appeal. On top of that, its word-of-mouth exclusivity gives people a sense of elitism that lures more people into the application. Being able to join a virtual room with people full of similar interests lead to increased networking among people and the possibility of immediate interaction without any scheduling makes it even more appealing to younger audiences.
In an era when social media has become more regulated and moderated, Clubhouse has none of it. Which is a double-edged sword and might end up doing more harm than good. While the moderators of individual rooms are free to control the conversation, its flow, or nothing at all, this isn’t enough to stop the spread of misinformation over the app, and since no records of the conversations held in the rooms are kept, the task gets even more difficult. When users of social media fail to follow community guidelines, as has happened in the past with Twitter and Facebook, companies can and must take action. Failure to comply with these rules can dump Clubhouse into a pile of other applications like Parler.
Social media must evolve to meet the needs of a changing society. As we work to achieve racial and gender equality and inclusion, Clubhouse is a great place to discuss our views and is here to stay. The application is struggling to handle its popularity and its users have soared in number after its release on Android in May 2021. The app has lots of potential to help people express themselves, but it must not become a vehicle for spreading misinformation and indoctrination.