Atlanta, USA (CNN) – For months, many people have been demanding access to Clubhouse, a social media app that can now be accessed by invitation only, and allows members to join virtual rooms for audio discussions about various Themes.
And unlike other social networks that rely heavily on writing, the Clubhouse platform is based on voice, not text, which makes it sound like an interactive “podcast” or conference call.
On any given night, there are thousands of different rooms that people can join for face-to-face conversations, Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, founders of the Clubhouse app. “Hosts” act as moderators of conversations and those in the room can, by default, raise their hands to turn on their microphones and give them a chance to speak. Among the participants is a list of venture capitalists, tech leaders and celebrities.
The Clubhouse founders, who are both associated with the tech industry from previous roles at big companies, added that their goal with Clubhouse is “to build a more human-looking social experience, where instead of publishing, you can meet other people and talk together.”
In less than a year since its launch, Clubhouse has become a well-known name in Silicon Valley, attracting millions of users around the world, and is valued at over a billion dollars. The company now plans to “expand … as quickly as possible and open it to everyone soon,” the founding partners announced.
But all that attention also brings potential challenges for Clubhouse. Twitter, a platform with a much larger audience, recently started to experiment with a new feature called “Spaces”, which Twitter describes as a live audio experience in which multiple people can communicate or discuss a topic.
Clubhouse also faces questions about whether it is equipped to deal with abuse and harmful speech on its app, especially as it grows in size. Indeed, some members and critics have publicly shared examples of anti-Semitism, false information, and harassment on the platform.
And relying on only audio brings new challenges when it comes to moderating content, something that even larger Clubhouse peers in social media struggle with when it comes to texts, videos, and photos.
And in a blog post last October, Clubhouse said it had added security features, including blocking, muting, in-room reporting and a way for moderators to close the room. And last November, the company said it had provided a “temporary and encrypted audio recording,” service only for trust and safety purposes. She added, “If no incident is reported in the room, we will delete the temporary audio recording when the chat room ends.” The Clubhouse Terms of Service prohibit recording conversation without the express written permission of all speakers involved. The company confirmed that it plans to expand its “trust and safety” team.