Given its popularity, it’s easy to forget that Clubhouse is technically still in beta (aka testing) mode. Its most glaring issues in recent months have been linked to privacy. Like most social media platforms, it asks for access to your contacts list as you’re setting up an account. Should you grant Clubhouse access, you’ll be able to see contacts that are already on the app, and Clubhouse will recommend you invite those who aren’t. Again, it isn’t a novel feature but has revived longstanding issues around data sharing on social media. This brings us to Clubhouse’s latest release.
While Clubhouse users have always had the option to not share their contacts list, they consequently weren’t able to invite anyone else to the app. That restriction has been officially been lifted.
“Have someone you want to invite, but don’t have them in your contacts? Now you can invite them by typing in their phone number,” they announced. In other words, you no longer have to share your contact lists to invite friends to join the app. This doesn’t change much for those waiting to be invited—Clubhouse is still invite-only. However, should you, for example, network online and meet a Clubhouse user you aren’t necessarily friends with, they could help you gain access.
To that same point, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for Clubhouse’s privacy woes. As noted by Sara Morrison at Vox, ensuring complete privacy of your data depends on how people with your contact details use the app as well.
“For now, you can only get invited to Clubhouse through your phone number, which is attached to your account and can’t be removed. So if someone has your phone number in their contacts, and they’ve given Clubhouse access to those contacts, they’ll get a notification when you join the app and a recommendation to follow you,” she writes.
“To be clear, Clubhouse isn’t the only app that is overly aggressive with its connection recommendations. Plenty of social media platforms use algorithms that take various factors into account, including your personal data and your contacts, to suggest people you should friend or follow. Those algorithms are very powerful, and yet somehow not powerful enough to avoid making recommendations that are creepy.”
Still, it’s encouraging to know that Clubhouse is aware of and addressing these issues. Other updates included in the March 12 release include a “Report for disrupting conversation” button and the ability to deactivate your account inside the app.
Plus, there are some updates that speak directly to building awareness around your profile. You can now share a direct link to your club and enjoy nomination badges.
“Now when you invite someone off Clubhouse to join your club, the nomination badge on their profile will display the name of your club, rather than the name of any one person. We hope this will help more people discover your club (each time they visit one of your invitees’ profiles), and help you feel more comfortable building out your member base,” says the platform.
Here’s a beginner-friendly guide to starting a club on Clubhouse if you’re new to the app.
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