WHAT IS CLUBHOUSE AND WHY IS IT SUDDENLY EVERYWHERE?
The latest must-have social networking app is called Clubhouse. It’s an iPhone-only app and it is described as a “new type of network based on voice”. It recently exploded in popularity after Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared on the app, by joining the Good Time show, to talk about Mars, memes, and becoming a multiplanet species.
Since it’s voice-only and doesn’t use your camera, Clubhouse hopes you won’t worry about “eye contact, what you’re wearing, or where you are”. It seems like a dream for all the people that want to do other things in the meantime, but looking just around the corner there is a trick: you have to be invited to join by an existing member. Real world elitism, but make it virtual.
HOW DOES CLUBHOUSE WORK?
In order to join, an existing Clubhouse user has to send an invite from their app giving you access to set up an account. If you are invited, you’ll see a link texted to your phone number, directing you to a sign-up page in the app.
Clubhouse users can’t just send an invite to anyone who wants to join, however. Existing users only have two invites available at first.
The conversation room is just like a conference call, but with some people on the call talking, and most listening in. And, just like a phone call, once the conversation is over, the room is closed. Unlike Twitch – where live streamed videos stay on the platform for people to return to and watch – the live audio-chats had in conversation rooms disappear.
When you join, you select topics of interest, like tech, books, business or health. The more information you give the app about your interests, the more conversation rooms and individuals the app will recommend you follow or join.
You can join the room by tapping on it – they’re all open for you to hop in or out. Clubhouse wants users to explore different conversations. You enter each room as an audience member. If you want to talk, you “raise your hand”, and then the speakers can choose to invite you up. Clubhouse rooms are often hosted by experts, celebrities, venture capitalists, journalists, and so on. You can also create a room of your own.
WHY WAS IT SO POPULAR IN CHINA?
While censorship, suppression and government control is rife in China, Clubhouse managed to fly under the radar of China’s firewall for several months, unlike other social media networks Instagram and Facebook.
It became very popular, attracting large numbers of Chinese users and giving them a rare chance to “binge free expression”, and engage in discussion on topics that are usually blocked on the mainland, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In other words, Chinese users, largely tech investors and professionals, are using the space to talk about topics that would otherwise be censored back home, such as democracy.”