The $4 Billion App That Doesn’t Value Privacy, Security or Accessibility

beSpacific 2021-05-13

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) – It is tempting to excuse Clubhouse’s flaws as growing pains, but the app’s design and rollout illustrate just how little Silicon Valley and its venture capital backers have learned…Clubhouse is a small but quickly growing audio-based, invite-only mobile chat app and social network owned by Alpha Exploration Co. In what feels like a combination of talk radio and podcasting, the app allows its users to weave in and out of digital spaces known as “rooms” to listen in on live conversations between featured speakers, known as “hosts,” and their guests, as well as to join “clubs” of interest. Clubhouse rooms and clubs span many topics, everything from vegan fashion to bitcoin, theoretically offering something for everyone. Despite its high valuation, Clubhouse’s founders and backers have demonstrated limited regard for privacy, security and accessibility to date, and appear to have learned little from the missteps of earlier platforms on perennial challenges such as content moderation, facing them sooner than platforms have in the past. As one reporter observed, “Clubhouse [is] speed-running the platform life cycle.” As a result, Clubhouse is an important case study in the limits of our approaches to data governance in the face of Silicon Valley’s indefatigable ethos…”