By now, you’ve probably heard about Clubhouse, the new, tech-savvy, social media app straight out of Silicon Valley. It has taken over the world by storm, boasting celebrity users such as Elon Musk and Oprah.
Clubhouse is a social media app released in 2020 where users share audio clips and have live conversations with each other without showing their face. Users can join virtual “rooms” to partake in a discussion. Unlike other social media apps, Clubhouse is invitation only, meaning you have to be invited to join the platform by an existing user.
The exclusivity and “secret” nature of Clubhouse increased the popularity of the app andWellesley students were quick to hop on the trend. On WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging app where there are currently many active Wellesley College group chats, students asked one another for “invites,” as others shared public “Clubhouse invite” groups to help each other get on the app as soon as possible. Charlotte Wu ‘23 was one of them.
“The invite-only aspect of Clubhouse initially made the app very mysterious and appealing to me,” Wu said. “I was invited and introduced to Clubhouse by a friend after a long wait for an invite, which raised my expectation for this app substantially. Through inviting and interacting with my friends on Clubhouse, I…was very excited to meet new like minded people and to interact with them on the app.”
Because Clubhouse connects people through live-audio chats, its success in bringing people together is even more valuable thanks to the need for social distancing.
“I was using Clubhouse with my friends during quarantine and I felt connected with them through Clubhouse, especially when I can actually talk to my friends instead of typing,” Chu Xin Zhang ‘24, who started using the app before the spring semester started, said.
Shellie Hu ‘24 also shares Zhang’s sentiments about using expressed her
“My Wellesley friends are also on CH, and it makes it easier for us to speak to each other instead of typing,” Shellie Hu ‘24 said. “I also subscribed to some STEM groups, including neuroscience and astrophysics, as well as a daily Japanese conversation group [where] I got to hear many different people’s opinions on fields I’m interested in.”
On Clubhouse, there is a large presence of current and past Wellesley students. With more than 140 members, “Wellesley College Alums” is an unofficial chat room for Wellesley alums to interact and hold weekly discussions. While the room is only open to Wellesley Alums, Wellesley students found other ways to connect with each other.
“I connected with some Wellesley peers and ran into some rooms with interesting topics,” Yulu Gu ‘24 said. “Through Clubhouse, I can learn about different topics from others and I’ve entered some rooms where people were giving different career advice. I remembered that one time I accidentally found out Dr. Kaifu Lee was giving a speech about the Tech field which I found really interesting.”
Yet, one of the biggest issues facing Clubhouse right now is privacy concerns that anyone can potentially record a room and stream the content elsewhere. In fact, in early February, the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) discovered a user who streamed audio feeds and user datas to another website.
Social media app Clubhouse has been on the market for less than one year and it’s already facing privacy-related court filings and fallout from a user data leak that has been exploited, in which a user recorded and shared private conversations, user login information, and metadata to another website.
However, for some users such as Jocelyn Yu ’24, privacy is not a serious issue to be worried about.
“That is not something I am concerned [about] on Clubhouse because I feel like it is a sharing platform,” Yu said. “Like when you talk on there, the intention is to broadcast something.”
Clubhouse is currently available for only iOS users and can be downloaded from the App Store.