What is Clubhouse? Good luck getting invited to the social app.


You might’ve heard of Clubhouse by now. It might still be unlikely that you’ve actually joined Clubhouse.

That’s because the new social media platform has built its reputation, in part, on exclusivity. Well, exclusivity and being the audio-only app where people spend countless hours mostly networking and plugging their own projects. It has also been been copied (or working on being copied) by other social media companies after its hyped success.

However you still have to secure an invite from a current user to get in to Clubhouse, although that may eventually change. Here’s what you need know about Clubhouse in case you soon find yourself using it.

What is Clubhouse?

In short: Clubhouse is an audio-based social media app. The company describes itself as “a new type of social product based on voice [that] allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world.”

Basically, you can jump in and out of different chats, on different subjects, in something akin to a live, free-flowing podcast. You can simply listen or choose to throw in your thoughts. In theory, it’s supposed to be something like a cocktail party or…clubhouse. In practice, it’s some mixture of LinkedIn, a panel discussion, or a professional conference.

Vogue described the app‘s experience as “a dizzying bringing together of live podcast-style conversations, panel discussions, networking opportunities (some savvy people are already swapping ‘influencer’ for ‘moderator’) and advantageous multiple-room use (locked and private options are available so you can talk to pals too), the social-media app mimics real-life interactions.”

The audio itself, however, doesn’t leave the app. That’s the main rule: There’s no recording of conversations and they’re not saved.

Who uses Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is big with celebrities. Float around the app and you might hear folks like Oprah, Kevin Hart, Drake, Chris Rock, or Ashton Kutcher. They might even host chats. In some ways, that’s part of Clubhouse’s appeal. You get the chance to hear, and even participate in, unvarnished conversations with famous and powerful people. Refinery29 described networking as the primary reason for Clubhouse’s rising popularity. Indeed, spend enough time on the app and you’re bound to hear folks not-so-casually slipping their accomplishments and goals into conversation.

Other than celebrities, the app is seemingly focused on people it considers an elite clientele. It became a status symbol of sorts for Silicon Valley types after its launch last year. The whole invite-only thing was apparently taken pretty seriously. But it’s now growing. Taylor Lorenz for the New York Times reported in December that it had 600,000 registered users and has been courting influencers.

Its downloads have slowed recently but Clubhouse is attempting to roll out new features that’ll keep folks interest. Most recently it announced that it would debut audio-only Ted Talks on the platform.

Who made it?

Paul Davison and Rohan Seth found the app last year. By May, it was valued at around $100 million despite have just 1,500 users at the time, according to CNBC. Its most recent round of funding reportedly valued it at $4 billion.

What’s the controversy with Clubhouse?

Clubhouse already has abuse and content moderation — or lack thereof — problems. As the Times noted, there have been numerous complaints that Clubhouse hasn’t done much to protect folks from abuse.

The Verge wrote back in July that the app didn’t seem to have a plan for moderating content. Things haven’t seemed to get much better. Vanity Fair wrote a piece in December detailing out the ephemeral, audio-only nature of Clubhouse allowed the app to “become a haven for the powerful to flirt with misogyny and racism.” The responded to Vanity Fair saying it “unequivocally condemns all forms of racism, hate speech, and abuse, as noted in our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service, and has trust and safety procedures in place to investigate and address any violation of these rules.”

How do you get an invite to Clubhouse?

Right now, you still cannot join Clubhouse without an invite. You can download the app and reserve a username, if that sort of thing interests you. It was once available only for iPhone users but it is available on Android now.

But the app apparently plans to expand to the general public at some point. It says it hasn’t done that yet for two reasons: It wants to build community slowly and it wants to prepare features that will help it handle larger numbers of people.

“We are building Clubhouse for everyone and working to make it available to the world as quickly as possible,” the app’s site reads.

How do you delete Clubhouse?

So, what happens if find you nab an invite to Clubhouse but then want to get rid of it? After all, the app isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.

Mashable’s Jack Morse wrote a detailed piece on deleting Clubhouse — and the app’s data policies — but it’s safe to say getting rid of your account is not a simple process.

There is no option or button to delete your Clubhouse account within the app. You have to contact Clubhouse directly and ask them to delete your data.

“Please log in to your account or contact us (at [email protected]) if you need to change or correct your Personal Data, or if you wish to delete your account,” the app’s privacy policy reads.

From there, it’s not clear how quickly Clubhouse will follow up on your request.

So, yes, it may be hard to get into Clubhouse, but it might be just as hard to leave.

This story was originally published in January 2021 and updated in July 2021.

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