Are you using the Clubhouse app? If you oversee your own social media, you may feel pressure to explore this new platform. I recently appeared on Fox News to discuss Clubouse privacy concerns – read on to learn more or watch the video below.

What is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is an app currently only available for iPhone. It is a voice-chatting app used to host and join conversations on different topics in different virtual  “rooms.”
Nothing is recorded, and there are no pictures or videos – it’s like listening in on a live podcast episode. The catch is, you need an invitation to join, at least for now, otherwise you’re placed on a wait list.

Who’s using it?

There are currently 10 million users, including celebrities, athletes, journalists, entrepreneurs, and influencers. Users engage in conversations on a variety of topics like health, relationship, pop culture and finance. Some discussions are for general engagement, like “co-work” hours in which users listen to music while getting work done together, or for entertainment value in the case of discussing celebrity gossip or the latest episode of a favorite Television show. There are also debate and more serious conversations regarding culture, race and politics led by journalists and subject matter experts.

If you enjoy podcasts or a great conversation, you may want to explore the Clubhouse app, especially if you find a subject matter expert to follow based on your career, hobbies, or interests.

What to Be Aware of When it Comes to Clubhouse Privacy Concerns

There are major issues when it comes to Clubhouse privacy concerns. While this is an issue with every social media app, Clubhouse in particular could do more to protect users.
  1. Technically, users are not permitted to record conversations but that doesn’t stop users from doing it. In fact, users have been banned for “collecting” conversations and posting them to other websites (including live streaming outside the community, like on YouTube) without participants’ knowledge.
  2. Next, the app’s infrastructure uses Agora, a company based in China – this means that conversations could potentially be accessed by the Chinese government. The company says it has put safeguards in place now. According to Stanford University, in February, though, the government blocked a Mandarin-language debate for users in China. The app has since been banned for Chinese users altogether.
  3. There is little control- moderators can remove and block trolls and bullies, but by then the damage has been done. And, generally, anyone can set up a room and say anything, leading to concerns about spreading conspiracy theories and outright scams.
  4. The Clubhouse app records user conversations temporarily in case an abuse incident is reported, at which time the admins may review recorded conversations. However, your microphone remains active and is recorded during a call, even if you move to another app while leaving the Clubhouse room open.
  5. Finally, one of the greatest concerns is that in order to extend invitations, you are required to allow the app access to your entire contact list. This means that even if you don’t use the app, friends who do use it and have you in their contact list have granted Clubhouse access to your phone number and any other info they have stores (possibly your name, email address, photo and more).

What can you do?

If you still want to check out Clubhouse and receive an invite, you can participate in rooms. If you don’t extend invites to others, you don’t have to allow access to your contacts.
You may choose to simply listen in, or if you host conversations it’s important to understand the concerns above. Be sure to close the app when you move on to something else in order to disable recording of your microphone.
Also, keep in mind that just like on other site (think Snapchat), a “fleeting” social media communication can actually be captured and live on forever. There is no such thing as anonymity or content that truly “disappears.”