Clubhouse is an emerging social media platform born during the lock-in period driven by the coronavirus. Even in the case of family isolation, it also provides users with the opportunity to have intimate audio conversations with virtual strangers.
But as the platform continues to evolve, the same model that allows users to connect while physically separated has raised concerns about how the application handles the propagation of misinformation.
Unlike traditional social media platforms (where the user’s footprint is more permanent), the club does not record Clubhouse chat room conversations in the app, making it “almost impossible” to identify the spread of false information or harassment, Senior Researcher, Atlantic Resident The Digital Forensics Research Laboratory of the Emerson Brooking Council told The Hill.
“Because the words you use are different from the way you use your Twitter account, you will feel more relaxed, which means that the application works as expected. But, of course, this also means special danger.
Brooking said the Clubhouse model allows users to express their ideas freely, regardless of whether they share accurate information — or the consequences of disseminating misinformation.
Clubhouse aims to allow users to enter and exit chat rooms around a wide range of topics. Listeners can choose to participate by virtual raising their hands, and then the host can make them the speakers in the room.
The host or the user who started the meeting room of the club can also add or delete other speakers to allow them to guide the conversation.
The clubhouse provides a platform for people to host informal groups in a wide range of areas, while traditional meetings and events have been cancelled due to the pandemic.
However, the informal nature of the app has led to reports about the spread of misinformation, including the spread of false claims about coronavirus and coronavirus vaccines, as Vice reported earlier this month. Even if Twitter and Facebook promised to crack down on content, such false claims continue to plague traditional social media platforms.
“Now, this is an ideal meeting place for members of the anti-vaccine community. This is a huge concern because it provides an opportunity for people to convene sympathetic clubs to discuss and increase the content of anti-vaccine. “They can control the process of the conversation so as not to hear other sounds. “Brooking said.
However, according to the guidelines, if a user reports an incident after the meeting room ends, the platform will not be able to access the audio of the meeting room to support investigations.
As the application continues to evolve, the problem of misinformation may follow.
The platform was launched for the first time with a smaller user base in March last year (when the global lock-in began). According to data from Sensor Tower, an application analysis company, even though it is still in the invitation phase, the popularity of Clubhouse has increased rapidly. As of last Friday, its global installations have exceeded 10 million.
A spokesperson for Clubhouse did not respond to comments to confirm how many active users have been on the platform so far, but in a blog post on January 24, Clubhouse estimated that there were approximately 2 million users that week.
Since then, the number of installations has skyrocketed. According to Sensor Tower’s data, during the three weeks from January 25 to February 14, Clubhouse installed approximately 6 million worldwide, an increase of 400% over the previous three weeks.
People who download the application but have not been invited are allowed to enter their information to receive invitations to join through mutual connections that are already members, or to be notified when the application is open to the public.
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Jennifer Grygiel, assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University, said: “When you have nowhere to go, I think this is a new’residence’.
“Many of the people who first set foot in this field are influential people. In this pandemic, even they are trapped at home.” Grygiel added.
Experts say that Clubhouse may have advantages in mitigating the spread of virus misinformation compared with traditional social media.
Unlike almost all other platforms (including Twitter and Facebook), there is no “re-blogging” feature that allows users to share each other’s posts, which is usually how the posts (including misinformation) spread to a wide audience.
Aram Sinnreich, a professor at the American University School of Communication, said: “If there is really something different, it is that the built-in virus transmission capability of the platform itself is declining.”
Although some people worry that misinformation may spread more freely because the conversation disappears after the chat room ends, Sinnrich downplayed this. He said users who are prone to a wide audience will be wary of conversations being archived or monitored from external sources.
“I think any influential person—public figures, celebrities, people who professionally promote or spread news, political organizers—anyone doing this kind of work will be aware of the limited security and the ability to monitor and archive the Clubhouse And will act accordingly.” Sinnreich said.
He added: “A person who is unaware of this and is more free to express himself than on Facebook or Twitter is an ignorant person who does not understand social media and therefore has limited ability to accept others.”
Experts warn that as more and more people join the platform, and if the platform is open to the public, the ever-changing user base may change the app’s culture and may lead to further risks of misinformation dissemination.
Brooking said: “If Clubhouse takes the path of Facebook, then in the next few years, the population over 65 will begin to join the platform in large numbers,” he pointed out that the launch of Facebook is a website for university students only.
He added: “It is no longer a place for Silicon Valley elites to conduct technical exchanges, but will basically become the future of talk broadcasting.” “If we go this way, the danger of false and misinformation will be more obvious.”