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What’s this Clubhouse app everyone is talking about?

At it's core, the app is the easiest way to make audio-only group chats

If you’ve been following tech news lately, you may have noticed a new app called Clubhouse is getting a lot of attention.

While the app is still in its early stages, it’s poised to be very popular, and Twitter and Facebook are both actively developing features that clone Clubhouse’s most interesting functionality.

What is Clubhouse

At its core, Clubhouse lets users to start voice chatrooms that anyone can join. This allows a group of friends to have a persistent place to log in and talk with each other, and as the platform grows in popularity, it’s also been a way for notable people like Elon Musk to hold clubs and talk with followers publicly.

People can schedule conversations in the app, so depending on who you follow, there might always be a cool discussion to join. That said, there are also ‘Open’ chatrooms that anyone can log into.

Once a chatroom is created, the first two people who join are automatically labelled as the ‘Speakers’ and have the power to talk. The rest of the chatroom users are ‘Listeners’ and need to be invited by a mod or a speaker to talk.

These Open rooms are cool and can lead to fun conversations, but they also have a dark side since they can give hate speech and racism a platform. The app uses moderation similar to Reddit’s, which allocates select users called ‘Mods’ to control and set the rules for each chatroom.

Since its inception, this method hasn’t worked incredibly well, leading to numerous reports of hate speech, misleading facts and other bad actions. Since some chatrooms even have pseudo-Ted Talk vibes, the people talking often seem like they’re teaching even if they’re just sharing opinions.

This has led to the app’s development team releasing a new community guidelines blog post. 

It’s also difficult for the platform to moderate these conversations. If someone says something racist on Twitter, Facebook or a text-based platform, you can report that post.

With voice, things become harder. How do you censor a person speaking live or thousands of humans talking live at the same time?

Where does it go from here?

The app is still in its early stages, and the only way to get into it right now is to be invited by someone who is already using Clubhouse.

With all of this in mind, Clubhouse needs to find a way to keep its platform safe and constructive for all people if it aims to reach the popularity of key social media competitors like Twitter and Facebook.

At the moment you can only download the app on iOS with an invite from another Clubhouse user. An Android version of the app is coming at a later date.

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