If you are in the know of things, you would have heard of Clubhouse. And if you don't know, Clubhouse is an invite-only social media platform where you interact with others via voice chats in rooms. It's currently only available on iOS and you will need someone who is already on Clubhouse (and has invites to spare) to get you in. Yeah, it is exclusive like that. Ever since its inception, Clubhouse has become quite famous and amassed billions in funding with the likes of Elon Musk dropping into rooms for chats.
While all of this sounds like a lot of fun, Clubhouse has its own set of problems. And some of these problems can blow up in your face, especially if you are a person of any repute and are chatting online with people over controversial and important topics. To understand what the issues are, you will need to understand how Clubhouse works.
How Clubhouse works
- Anyone on Clubhouse can start a room. And anyone can join any room as long as it is open.
- People who follow you will be notified and are free to join that room and chat.
- As the person starting the room you automatically become the moderator and you have the power to allow people in or throw them out as you wish. You can also pick other moderators for the room if you want.
- The room is split between speakers and listeners. This happens particularly in big rooms where there are a lot of people listening in. The moderators get to pick the speakers, other listeners in the room are not allowed to speak unless specifically allowed by the moderator and have to be made a speaker before they can. As a listener, you can raise your hand and ask for permission to speak, like you can on Zoom, Webex calls.
- As we've said before, a moderator can allow you in and throw you out of a room, the discretion lies solely on them.
Now comes the next question, how is any of this a problem. A room on Clubhouse can be open or closed. An open room is one where pretty much anyone can drop in to listen. A closed room is only for people who have been invited by the moderators, others cannot join. Understandably, a closed room is more secure because moderators have control over not just who is speaking but also who is listening.
Why is it important to have closed rooms?
- When you are having a conversation with people where what you say might be held against you, it is best to do it in a closed room. A closed room will and should have people you trust or the moderator trusts, so the people in the room can be trusted to not record the conversation and use it against anyone in any context.
- Conversations on Clubhouse can easily be recorded. You cannot do it from the app itself, but you can always keep your phone on speaker and record it with another device. Essentially, there is no knowing if you are being recorded. While this does not matter for generic discussions like on movies, or a new mobile phone, it matters greatly for people like politicians, political activists, CEOs, MDs, et, and in our country, comedians too. That's what happened with election strategist Prashant Kishore recently. You can read up on what happened here.
- Anyone can also record the screen while a Clubhouse chat is on. For anyone recording the screen, Clubhouse warns - “Heads up - Sharing recordings without the speaker's permission violates the Community Guidelines and will result in suspension. Thx!”. However, for those who really want to cause some damage, a warning like this is all sorts of pointless.
- Voice recording from another device in tandem with a screen recording can show who was speaking.
Why Clubhouse is actually more troublesome than other social media
What you are saying on Clubhouse can be recorded by pretty much anyone in the room and be shared. In cases of a big room, you will not even be able to find out who did it, especially if the room is open. Clubhouse recordings not only can get you voice clips but screen recordings can connect the voice and the face making it easier to pin it to a person of interest.
So, if you are going to say something controversial, or vital enough to change the world or a political party's future in the country, we suggest you do it in a closed room, and in one where you trust the moderator to not open the room up. Check if the room is open or closed, it is not rocket science, before you go shooting your mouth off. It IS social media, after all.