Operation, invitation system, availability, controversy over the collection of personal data … we explain everything you need to know about Clubhouse, the successful social application.

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Launched in April 2020 by Alpha Exploration Co., the Clubhouse social network quickly became a phenomenon. Based on voice conversations and access available only by invitation, the service is growing rapidly. So much so that Facebook is already preparing its competitor at Clubhouse, to try to pull the rug out from under the app before it becomes even more popular. This is also the case with Reddit.

❓ Clubhouse, what is it?

Clubhouse is a social network organized in the form of chat rooms. But unlike most other platforms, it does not focus on writing, but on live voice. A basic philosophy that has been turned upside down by the arrival of Backchannel, which allows you to send written messages.

When the user opens the app, they are offered chat rooms to join. An “Explore” tab also allows you to search for a salon according to its theme if those displayed on the home screen do not interest it. Each show is limited to 5000 people.

When you join a show, you are part of the public, of the audience. It is not possible to speak directly, only the administrators or moderators of the room can grant this right. A button allows you to “Raise your hand” and ask for the floor. Once your request is accepted, you can participate in the exchange. You also have the option of declining if you have changed your mind and no longer wish to express yourself. Otherwise, the only possible action is to invite their contacts to join the show.

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📄 How to access Clubhouse?

When it was launched Clubhouse operated on the basis of invitations. To access it, you therefore had to know someone who had access to it. This system was lifted on July 22, 2021 and now anyone can access it.

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This allowed both to create a “hype” around the application, but also to control its growth since Alpha Exploration Co. does not have the infrastructure to support the arrival of hundreds of thousands or even millions of users. ‘a knock. Even if the invitation system is limiting, the fact of assigning two invitations to each new user has still allowed Clubhouse to experience exponential growth. The application boasts of having been downloaded 8 million times. This figure is likely to explode with the opening to everyone.

One of the great attractions of Clubhouse is the possibility of listening or even exchanging with well-known personalities, many of whom have taken up the service: artists, athletes, politicians, big names in the tech industry… In February 2021 , Elon Musk has also made a lot of talk about Clubhouse by inviting Vladimir Poutine to a discussion via the application. Also recently, Bill Gates indicated his preference for Android smartphones over iPhones during a chat. Mark Zuckerberg also made appearances there.

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🤖 When will Clubhouse be available on Android?

The Clubhouse app has long been an iOS exclusive. But, since May 21, 2021, Clubhouse is also available on Android smartphones. Two million Android users are now using the app. However, some features present on iOS are not at launch on Android.

You just have to go to the App Store or the Play Store to download and install Clubhouse on your device, quite simply.

Clubhouse is available in english only for the time being. No date has been communicated as to a version translated into French.

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🤫 Clubhouse: the question of personal data

Facebook and WhatsApp have lost a lot of their brand image following several scandals related to the use of personal data, while TikTok has been slowed down in the United States for the same reasons. Clubhouse may well face similar issues as it grows in popularity. The application is already monitored in Germany, and in mid-March, it entered the sights of France.

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The National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) has opened an investigation against Clubhouse, suspected of not respecting the principles of the GDPR. It works with entities from other European countries to coordinate an action that remains to be defined. A first problem concerns Clubhouse’s access to all of the user’s contacts. The application also creates “ghost profiles” of users who are not registered, but who are registered as contacts in the registered directory. Clubhouse has already responded and assures that this collection of information is no longer relevant for newcomers, and that old ones will have the possibility of deleting the data thus collected.

Another concern, the application records conversations, without explicitly warning users, conversations are hosted on the servers of the Chinese company Agora. Clubhouse promises that audio files are only kept temporarily for moderation, but Chinese law is known to allow the government to force companies to provide them with data. In addition, a hacker had managed to access the recordings. Moreover, more than a million people registered on the Clubhouse application on iOS have been victims of a hack.

Will also ask the question of moderation of content : How will Clubhouse identify illegal content or content that does not respect its charter when the platform’s only communication media are voice? Social networks have developed powerful moderation tools in recent years, but they mainly concern text and images, audio is still little concerned. And we know that the app has already been used to propagate conspiracy or anti-vaccine theories. When its audience increases, the application will become more scrutinized and will have to respond to new challenges in terms of moderation.

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🔢 What alternatives to Clubhouse?

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Do you think the basic concept is fun, but Clubhouse has flaws? So maybe these alternative apps can satisfy you:

  • Telegram recently launched Voice Chats 2.0, audio chat rooms clearly aimed at competing with Clubhouse, with very similar features, such as raising your hand to ask to speak.
  • Twitter also has its living rooms with Twitter Spaces.
  • Stereo also relies on live conversation, but encourages users to create real show concepts. It is possible to search for lounges by theme, and unlike Clubhouse, to access old content and set up a schedule so that users know when to log in.
  • Acquired by Spotify, Anchor is more of a podcast application, which offers the possibility of remote recording and editing your podcast. No direct, therefore. But there is still interaction with the audience, which has the possibility of sending audio messages, which can then be incorporated into a montage.
  • Cappuccino offers an original concept. It offers discussion groups, not live, but by voice messages. The goal is to tell a joke, an anecdote, share a recommendation… anything that you want to share with the other members of the group. Each day, the application takes all the messages sent and creates a kind of small podcast from all the messages, with small introductory music before each intervention.

Please feel free to suggest other alternatives to Clubhouse in the comments!

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