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ClubHouse

Clubhouse …. do you really want in? This is a published post that I will come back to from time to time to revisit and update as more information becomes available.

People … Process and THEN Technology … but as usual the world at large is ignoring the advice – and jumping straight into an app without much thought … let me explain.

If you are a celeb – you can get in.

Photo by kilarov zaneit on Unsplash

If you are one of the masses … we have a wait line for you … once you have downloaded our app and given us your telephone number … curiously out of the box it asks you to confirm the phone number you want it to use … so it has already read the data on my phone – without my permission – even before I have been accepted.

It is iPhone only for now. (They know where the money is).

The site itself tells you nothing – but others have explored and looked and opined. (Links at the end.)

But What About Privacy?

One thing the site could have done would be to talk about their privacy policies, where the data is, why they have it (because they don’t seem to ask for it) and why they need it. Not to mention how they intend to handle things like harassment. But like all good ‘bro software’ – we’ll sort that out later ….

Nothing on the site reveals much about what people should be concerned about, only what they are concerned about … access to celebrities!

Diving further down …

“Recording any conversation is strictly forbidden, meaning your encounters with VIP members or general conversations are protected.”

ClubHouse

… how do they manage that? They don’t. Nothing stops me audio recording a conversation … if I can hear it … I can record it. (By the way – I am sure that they record it. Are they? The prohibition stated applies to us – not them. And I assume that if they aren’t now – they will be using AI to scan the voices to ‘learn more about us’ in the future.

Contacts

Also – any idea if your contacts are safe? Or are they going to be mined aswell? (In fairness – I just checked my phone – they aren’t even listed on the ‘approved apps’ – but then again, I’m not in yet.

But here is the truly insidious thing. Let’s say you have no interest in Clubhouse. That said you aren’t a hermit. You are ‘connected’. You have to be. The people that are inviting you to join Clubhouse know that you are connected and in their minds should be there. And that’s just the ones you know about.

The fact is that if you are in the contact book of anybody that has joined Clubhouse … it’s a safe bet to assume (like it or not) that your information is already in the ‘Clubhouse Social Graph. And if you know anyone who is inviting people – your data has definitely been uploaded.

Watch the articles start to appear in the mainstream press as Clubhouse starts to grow. Watch people throw their hands into the air and ask ‘who knew this was happening’ … who gave Clubhouse permission. I don’t need to wait.

The answer is you – assuming you joined and invited people.

Ignorance

The sad thing is that all of this (and I am writing this as Clubhouse numbers are sitting around 1 million) is so clear to anybody who pays attention or even stops to think for two minutes before clicking away on buttons ‘confirming their agreement’)

This play is designed to operate around ‘ignorance’, at worst and at best – ‘who cares – I don’t mind – I have nothing to hide’.

You might not, but Clubhouse and similar actors also don’t care about you (sorry). The point is that they have no interest at all in the ‘nodes’ on the graph – they are focussed on the connections and you dear clubhouse member are feeding the beast … but not just with your information …mine aswell.

Added Thought (21st February 2021)

It just occurred to me as I was reading …

this (Why Hot New Social App Clubhouse Spells Nothing But Trouble) from the Guardian

… how hard would it be for Apple ( if they do it – others will follow – after they stop laughing ) to offer two contact/address books. Only you know which is real and which is a dummy. In the dummy, you keep a couple of contacts and it is that which you upload when asked by corporations like Clubhouse.

Of course – Clubhouse will then demand a minimum of (say) ‘100 contacts’, and then a market will spring up – £5 for 100 dummy contacts. $10 if you want to include names like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreesen, Paul Davison and Rohan Seth – you know the people that cause these problems to begin with, you can!

Additional Highlights:

Before we get to what others are saying … this is what they are saying (not much and it goes back to July last year).

Clearly not yet worked out:

How will we evaluate complaints of abuse or harassment when we don’t record user conversations? 

Clubhouse Post (and the only reference to ‘harassment in the entire post)

But It’s Already Valued At $100 Million!

Of course it is. Andreesen Horowitz dropped a cool $10 million into their bank – and if they got 10% of the company for that deposit – then the company is valued at $100Million … The ‘V’in ‘VC’ stands for ‘Voodoo’.

But still – nothing as to how they recoup that investment.

So How Do They Make Money?

No idea.

I lie. Lots of ideas …

They will upload all your contacts to their servers.

They aren’t recording – but they say nothing about scraping the conversation running it through AI and building a profile of you – after all – they know who you are – what you are saying – which groups you are in …. (and if don’t think they can dynamically and in real-time scrape and transform your spoken words into text – then clearly you have not seen Descript.

Of course – I have no idea if all this is happening, could happen, would happen – but just three months ago – Facebookers were up in arms after watching ‘The Social Dilemma’ and now here we go again – flocking like lemmings to become the latest product for Silicon Valley tech bros to use.

This is their privacy policy. Take a read, that policy doesn’t say anything about not being able to do all that I just described. In fact, it all but spells out that this is exactly what they are going to do. Also interesting that they keep it on ‘Notion’.

Various people have said different versions of these words in the past – I like the one from Rounders … that talks about if you cant spot the mark – you are the mark.

Maybe I’m wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time …. but if I am – can someone tell me how they make money?

Clubhouse Articles

(I have ignored all the puff stuff from March and simply linking to December / January stuff – now that the honeymoon is over.)

Vanity FairThe Murky World of Moderation on Clubhouse.

spoiler alert – what moderation?

VogueEverything You Need to Know About Clubhouse, the App Celebrities Are Flocking To.

spoiler alert – that ‘celebrity access’ is both a clue and the key.

BloombergPrivate Social App Clubhouse Courts Fresh Controversy

One exception, Wired – back in May.

WiredThey aren’t big fans.

Conclusion

No, I don’t know everything about what this app is setting out to do.

When that blog post came out, there were only two full time members of the team – the two founders. One is ex Pinterest. The other is ex Google. So nothing to worry about there. Right?

To my mind their ‘Field of Dreams’ approach – ‘Build it and they will come’ is working for them … but at what cost to the people that join in. I’ve requested access – and sitting quietly waiting to hear back from someone. I am not going to push for access – I am just interested to see how long it actually takes.

Once in – I will be able to say more, but my initial thoughts are very much of a ‘wait – haven’t we been down this road before’?

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