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Clubhouse app — what it is and how to get an invite

Clubhouse app
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Chances are you've heard of the Clubhouse app if you've been anywhere on the internet recently. There's been a lot of buzz surrounding the voice-powered app recently, mainly thanks to Elon Musk. Musk thrust the app into the spotlight after using it to interview Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev about the company's decision to stop users buying GameStop stock.

But despite all those headlines, you may still be asking what the Clubhouse app actually is. Here's is everything you need to know, including what it's for, and how you can get an invite to sign up for yourself.

What is Clubhouse and how does it work?

Clubhouse is all about voice and the spoken word rather than text-based conversations you’d find on other social networks. In the app you can host your own conversations, listen to others, or in some cases join in with existing conversations going on in the community.

Think of it as something similar to radio. Typically, it’s all about the host, with one or two people speaking to a silent audience. Just instead of programming you have "conversations" on different topics. Dozens of those can be happening at any given time, leaving you the chance to jump in and out of rooms until you find something that takes your interest.

Anyone can host a conversation, but Clubhouse is already known for talks by a lot of big names. They include Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk, who has helped catapult Clubhouse into the spotlight. There's even talk that Russian president Vladimir Putin may make a guest appearance on the app. Musk himself has confirmed he'll be speaking to Kanye West in the near future.

But beyond celebrities, a lot of Clubhouse's rooms are hosted by experts. That way you can listen in on subjects that are being discussed by people who have years of experience and know what they're talking about.

While it’s possible for other users to join in on a room’s conversation, usually by raising their virtual hand, this is typically done at the discretion of the moderator. As such it’s not common for conversations to feature members of the audience.

How to get a Clubhouse invite

The first hurdle to joining Clubhouse is that it’s only available on iPhone. So if you’re an Android user you’re currently out of luck. The second hurdle is that you can’t just register, as you would Facebook or Twitter, because Clubhouse is currently invite-only.

That’s right, the latest hit app is also quite exclusive. Only existing users can invite new members, and even then they only have two invites to hand out. So unless you know someone that’s already joined, and they like you enough to hand over an invite, you’re not going to be joining Clubhouse anytime soon.

The app is still available to download, and you can add your name to a waiting list, but there’s no telling when you might be able to sign up that way. 

CO Paul Davison has promised Clubhouse will be available to everyone, including Android users, eventually. Unfortunately, there’s no timeline on when that might be.

Clubhouse security concerns

There have been reports that some journalists, particularly women, are being bullied and harassed by other users. Likewise, others have reported seeing rooms descend into a mess of racism, anti-semitism and COVID-19 denial. 

Clubhouse has likewise promised to boost its own security, following reports from the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO). The SIO found that Chinese company Agora Inc., which provides its back end system, could potentially have access to user IDs and raw audio. The company could be obligated to collect and hand over this data to Chinese authorities if asked.

While Clubhouse insisted data was only stored on U.S. servers, and data is not routed through China, it would be rolling out extra encryption and blocks to prevent transmission of pings to Chinese servers.

The future of Clubhouse 

A lot is going on at Clubhouse at the moment, with major expansion plans in the works that the company hopes will put it at a similar level to other big social networking sites.

While Clubhouse already has moderators, Paul Davison has confirmed that moderation should be a top priority for any social network. While he wants to keep the platform as an area that promotes free speech and dialogue, more moderators will be needed as the platform grows. 

Clubhouse has also announced plans to monetize the service, allowing users to generate their own income through the app. So far, subscriptions, tips and ticketed events have been suggested.