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Clubhouse And Its Privacy & Security Risk

The Need To Know Before Downloading Clubhouse. Clubhouse And Its Privacy & Security Risk

Clubhouse And Its Privacy & Security Risk

Clubhouse Co-Founder Paul Davison

Recently, an audio-only social media app, “Clubhouse,” is so popular that people are selling invite codes on bidding platforms. Although the app is iPhone only, in the android play store, downloads of the project management app with the same name also surge.

Inside the app, users can open a private chat with friends and discuss or listen in on topics varying from local or international politics to technology in a collection of chatrooms.

But before rushing in downloading this app, as a cybersecurity professional, I want to highlight the security risk associated with this app. In short, if you have sensitive data on your mobile device, better to remove them before using Clubhouse.

The Un-Deleted Audio Recordings

The in-app audio chats are believably deleted once everyone has left the room. But the Alpha Exploration’s privacy policy says the conversations are only deleted automatically if nobody reported a “Trust and Safety violation” throughout the chat.

In other words, if there is an incident, Clubhouse retains the audio until “the investigation is complete.” Although they added that the temporary audio recordings are encrypted, they reserve the right to share them with law enforcement if necessary.

Show Me Your Friends

Since this iPhone-only secret app is limited to invitation only, users must have an invitation code to join. Along with the lure of its exclusivity, the app’s major attraction is the opportunity to join conversations hosted by celebrities like Musk about trading app Robinhood’s impact on Wall Street, bitcoin, and brain implants.

The problem arose when the app asked for access to your entire address book to invite other people who are not yet using the app. That means all the contacts are stored and uploaded to the Clubhouse’s server.

While you are listening to Musk’s latest moves, your contact information may be exposed simultaneously. Like WhatsApp and Facebook, which would create “shadow profiles” for people on the contact list but not yet on the app. So far, there is no simple way to oppose Clubhouse’s creation of shadow profiles that include name, number, and potential contacts.

GDPR Concerns

The Clubhouse also does not address the data protection required for the EU, GDPR. According to Art. 14 GDPR, EU data subjects must be informed about how their data is processed. This is mandatory unless EU citizens are prohibited from joining.

There is no mention of GDPR in Clubhouse’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. This information must be provided to data subjects before their personal data is processed, which means that before the data subject is invited via Clubhouse and personal data is stored on their servers.

If this information does not take place, there must be a clear opt-out option. According to the GDPR, companies that process data (Clubhouse’s parent company, Alpha Exploration) of European citizens must also appoint responsible persons in Europe. So far, it does not seem that Clubhouse has such data controllers in Europe.

Written Warning From VZBV

Back in 2016, the VZBV filed a lawsuit against WhatsApp. Berlin Kammergericht ruled that a company that only offers its T&Cs available to German users in English is acting “in a non-transparent manner that disadvantages all consumers in a breach of good faith.”

The Executive Director of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV) published a statement on Twitter that the California-based company Alpha Exploration Co. is accused of the following legal violations.

Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star

The social media platform based on live audio conversations is soaring in popularity. And this is only the beginning.

The next killer smartphone app has arrived — and it offers the potential to transform how we communicate, share knowledge and even make new friends.

I am talking about voice-and-audio-based social networking startup Clubhouse. Its platform enables users to drop in and out of ephemeral chat rooms and take part in a range of gatherings, from small “water-cooler” type conversations to larger discussions featuring expert panels, often attended by thousands of listeners.

Since its launch last March, Clubhouse has increasingly become a cultural phenomenon, attracting politicians, celebrities and experts from all walks of life. With its success and prominent backing, it may now be poised to upend the entire social media space.

Clubhouse’s latest figures reveal how quickly it is growing. During a weekly town hall event on Sunday, co-founder Paul Davison said the app’s weekly active user base had doubled to 2 million over the last couple of weeks. He also announced the startup had raised another investment round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, adding it now has more than 180 investors.

While he didn’t offer any specifics, The Information reported on Friday that Clubhouse was getting interest at a $1 billion valuation. If true, that means the company’s value has risen by a factor of 10 since its earlier Series A round last May, also led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Something special is happening inside the Clubhouse community. Call it the power of the voice — and it’s what separates Clubhouse from other platforms. A short back-and-forth live conversation, with its nuance and tone, can build closer relationships more quickly than dozens of written posts and text messages sent through more established social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Since I joined Clubhouse last summer, I met and became friends with professors, filmmakers, artists, engineers and more from places all over the world. It has been intoxicating listening to people’s life stories and absorbing their knowledge and experience, from learning how a streaming video executive greenlights projects to getting expert political analysis on the latest breaking news. It has easily become one of my favorite pastimes.

To illustrate the kind of agenda-setting conversations that are becoming a staple on Clubhouse these days, here’s one example: Earlier this month, the mayors of San Francisco, Miami and Austin congregated inside a “room” to tout their cities as good places for tech companies to do business.

Thousands of executives, investors, and employees tuned in to the vibrant interactive panel. For an app like Clubhouse — or any social media platform looking to extend its influence and user base — this is the holy grail of the virtuous feedback loop, where the network effects of a large influential audience attract the highest-quality speakers and vice versa.

Impressive as Clubhouse’s latest metrics are, they may actually understate its potential. All the growth thus far has come largely by word of mouth, and from only half of the smartphone market.

The app still requires an invitation from a current member to join and is exclusive to Apple Inc. devices. So when the founders decide to open Clubhouse to the public and release an Android version, growth will take off to higher levels.

The nature of Clubhouse’s platform offers the potential for money-making opportunities. For instance, Clubhouse could take a commission from room admission fees for large panel discussions. Or, similar to Amazon.com Inc.-owned Twitch channels, it could offer monthly subscriptions for specific interest-based club rooms.

One can also imagine users buying unique animated reaction emojis to give visual feedback to speakers and interact with other members of the audience. Of course, the ability to make money will also attract and retain the best room hosts for the Clubhouse ecosystem. On Sunday, Clubhouse’s cofounders said they will start testing ways for the platform’s creators to get paid through “tipping, tickets or subscriptions” in the coming months.

Clubhouse has its challenges. Like other social media networks, it has faced criticism for objectionable content that was broadcast on its site. Last September, Clubhouse was hit with a flurry of negative publicity when some speakers perpetuated anti-Semitic stereotypes.

The startup needs to invest more aggressively in trust and safety features and hire content moderators to mitigate harassment. There is also competition on the horizon with Twitter Inc. testing its own audio chat room feature inside its app called Spaces.

But it may be too little too late for other players. While Twitter’s new service does offer some differentiated features – including real-time transcriptions that appear on screen and the ability to share tweets to the room for discussion purposes – it is thus far largely siloed around a specific account’s followers.

It lacks Clubhouse’s distinctive serendipity that lets people from diverse backgrounds meet and form their own connections through their own wanderings. Clubhouse also is at a stage where it is adding new innovations on a near weekly basis — including different room types, activity-based notification feeds and event calendars. It will be difficult for any other company to catch up.

Of course, the app has benefited from the pandemic as people look for ways to socialize while avoiding in-person interactions and outdoor activities. But Clubhouse usage may prove more durable than many believe after daily life returns to normal. It’s a convenient, frictionless way to meet new people through the intimacy of conversation and listen to conference-like events that otherwise might be difficult to attend in person.

Perhaps most importantly is the stunning level of usage and engagement. On a personal level, since installing Clubhouse I have noticed my time spent on the app is significantly higher than any other social network on my smartphone — more than TikTok, Twitter or Instagram.

It is a sign of how appealing audio-based social networking can be. And judging from the activities of my friend list inside the community, I am not alone. I have little doubt once Clubhouse opens up to the general public, its user base can grow into the tens of millions. The social media giants should be concerned.

Can Clubhouse Keep the Conversation Going?

Tech’s hottest startup has benefited from turning its high-profile investors into talent. But the biggest test will be moving beyond the Silicon Valley faithful.

Investment firm Andreessen Horowitz has supplied much of the capital that helped spark the sudden rise of Clubhouse, the audio-based social network that’s become one of the hottest things in Silicon Valley and has drawn in megacelebrities including Oprah and Drake. In a twist on the standard venture capital model, it also provides a good deal of the talent responsible for the content.

Clubhouse is an invite-only app, structured as a series of “rooms,” where speakers lead discussions in front of audiences who can also be called on to participate. Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, the founders of the firm, which is often referred to as A16Z—a play on the letters in its name—host their own show on Clubhouse.

They also regularly show up in other rooms, and A16Z’s other partners encourage people from their wide range of contacts to hold court. The entire thing can resemble a smartphone-based version of the conferences and salons that venture capitalists rely on to burnish their thought-leader credentials and build hype for projects.

In perhaps the app’s biggest coup to date, Tesla Inc. co-founder Elon Musk appeared in January on Good Time, the Clubhouse show A16Z partner Sriram Krishnan hosts with his wife, Aarthi Ramamurthy, Facebook Inc.’s director of product.

The audience quickly ballooned to the 5,000-person capacity Clubhouse has set for rooms, and Musk’s conversation with Robinhood Markets Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vlad Tenev about GameStop Corp.’s stock trading drew national press coverage.

A few days later, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook—on whose board Andreessen sits—showed up on Good Time to discuss the company’s work on augmented reality. Bloomberg and others have since reported that Facebook is working on a Clubhouse competitor, and Twitter Inc. is doing the same. It’s a clear sign that Silicon Valley thinks Alpha Exploration Co., the startup responsible for Clubhouse, has hit on something big.

Clubhouse Users For The Week Ended Feb. 20: 6.8 Million

New forms of smartphone-based media consumption that suddenly take off among early adopters don’t always translate well to the wider world. For every Twitter, which first gained prominence as the must-have app of the 2007 South by Southwest conference, there’s a Highlight, a location-based social networking service that was SXSW’s top app in 2012 but was promptly forgotten after everyone went home.

That cautionary tale holds special relevance for Clubhouse given that its co-founder and CEO, Paul Davison, created Highlight.

“The things that excite us in Silicon Valley are not the things that excite a kid,” says Sarah Lacy, the founder of news startup Pando Daily, which Marc Andreessen has invested in personally. “That’s why a lot of people in the Valley missed the rise of TikTok.” Lacy, who now runs a network for women called Chairman Mom, says Clubhouse will reach escape velocity, too. “It has just captured something,” she says.

Via a spokeswoman, Davison declined to comment for this article. A representative for A16Z also declined to comment.

A16Z has worked to get people from beyond the industry onto Clubhouse. Actor Jared Leto, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, and television personality Gayle King have used the app. Clubhouse had 6.8 million active users for the week ended Feb. 20, according to market data firm App Annie. (The company’s own data show significantly more users.)

A16Z is unabashedly enthusiastic about Clubhouse—this January it led a $100 million funding round. In February the firm posted a job listing for a producer focused on creating its content for the app. But it’s also said it plans to build its own media outlet that will provide an optimistic look at tech issues.

Clubhouse could become more vulnerable the longer it relies on a powerful investor for both money and content, especially when that investor has competing ambitions in media. But Horowitz has framed the firm’s investment in media startups, which also include blogging service A Medium Corp. and newsletter company Substack Inc., as complementary.

“The ideas you can get across all are very, very different,” he said recently on his own Clubhouse show. The longer, often thoughtful conversation that happens on Clubhouse “is not something that happens on the other social networks, at least for me.”

An increasing proportion of what’s happening on Clubhouse has nothing to do with its famous investors. While Silicon Valley types log on to keep up with Musk and Zuckerberg, most users head to more humdrum discussion rooms such as “The Brain Care Club” or “Living Your Best Life Post Breakup.”

At any given moment, thousands of conversations are taking place, most with nary a celebrity in earshot.

That’s a good sign for the app, says Supernode Ventures managing partner and Mediabistro founder Laurel Touby, who isn’t an investor but has been urging her professional contacts to tune in to her Clubhouse appearances.

The app can still feel like a niche fixation for tech insiders, and even if it moves to broader audiences, some people may continue to remember it as A16Z’s own little plaything, she says. “Is that so bad?”

Updated: 3-16-2021

The Origins Of Clubhouse

“He’s got more momentum than force,” says a former colleague. “Paul is just always moving forward.”

Nearly a decade ago, South by Southwest was known as a launchpad for internet phenomena: The annual tech and arts festival was where Twitter Inc. broke out and where masses of 20-somethings made group messaging apps a thing.

In the spring of 2012, the king of the conference was Highlight. Paul Davison, then 32, had released the app six weeks earlier with a proposition that was scary yet intriguing. It tracked users’ whereabouts to show them profiles of people nearby with similar interests or shared connections.

For that week in Austin, Texas, everyone wanted to try it. Phones buzzed and buzzed and buzzed with Highlight notifications. Venture capitalists wrote checks for millions of dollars. But within a year, the app was deemed too invasive to go mainstream and had essentially flatlined.

Nine years later, few people have even heard the name Highlight. A lot of people, however, have heard of Clubhouse, which Davison co-founded last year. Clubhouse is in many ways the opposite of Highlight, and even subsumes the role played by South by Southwest. Clubhouse is a virtual conference hall with different rooms for people to talk about whatever topics they like and invite guests to listen. It only uses audio.

South by Southwest, the venue that launched Davison’s star in the tech industry, kicks off Tuesday, not in Texas but on hundreds of thousands of screens. Meanwhile, Clubhouse rages on as a sort of virtual South by Southwest that never ends.

Unlike Highlight, Clubhouse has outlasted the initial burst of excitement. In the past year, the startup raised funds at a $1 billion valuation, signed up more than 10 million users, spread to dozens of countries and hosted talks with some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Venture capitalists, it seems, are ready to anoint Davison as a true king.

The app closely follows Davison’s style and interests. Over the past 15 years in the Valley, the Clubhouse chief executive officer has explored the depths of how technology can be used to connect people in new ways. He’s frequently embarking on the next project and proselytizes a seemingly genuine belief that most people are good-hearted and well-intentioned, according to those who have worked with Davison.

“That’s definitely his DNA,” said Kamran Ansari, a venture capitalist who first met Davison when they were both at Stanford University’s business school. “His mind doesn’t go to, ‘What if someone is stalking you? Or a criminal is connected to you and sees who you are?’ His mind doesn’t think that way. It comes back to being an optimist, without worrying about these edge cases.”

At times, the results have made people uncomfortable or demonstrate a failure to consider safeguards against potential abuses. Clubhouse has been used to spread misinformation about Covid-19, racism and misogyny. The live and ephemeral nature of the app make policing such content difficult.

A Clubhouse spokeswoman declined to make Davison available for an interview. She said racism, hate speech, abuse and false information are prohibited on the app and that moderation has always been a top priority.

In a sign that Davison may be learning from past privacy controversies, Clubhouse backtracked this week from demanding access to a user’s full contact list in order to invite friends.

Davison’s path to the Valley was smooth and unsurprising. He attended a high school known for its high achievers in San Diego, where he was a member of a club for “emerging leaders and entrepreneurs.” Then Stanford undergrad, Stanford business school, consulting at Bain & Co.

After getting his MBA in 2007, Davison joined Metaweb, a startup trying to create a database of the world’s information. They wanted to make complicated concepts accessible to regular people and spent a lot of time in front of a whiteboard trying one idea after another.

Davison was driven and intense but “not in a macho way,” said Gavin Chan, who worked closely under Davison at the startup. “He’s got more momentum than force. Paul is just always moving forward.”

Metaweb wasn’t the place for him to keep doing that. Google acquired the business in 2010, and Davison went to work as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Benchmark, one of Metaweb’s venture capital backers. He emerged with a new idea: using a smartphone’s location to connect people in proximity to one another.

Davison established a company called Math Camp, a reference to a two-week crash course offered to Stanford business students before real classes began. Math Camp’s first product was Highlight.

To promote it, the company paid young people to wander around downtown Austin during the conference in 2012 wearing white turtlenecks with the Highlight logo on the front. The workers showed South by Southwest attendees how the app could alert them to the presence of, say, a woman nearby who shares a mutual acquaintance and an interest in opera.

A few months later, Davison penned an opinion article for CNN arguing against “cyberphobia.” Technologies seem ridiculous or scary at first, he wrote, but that’s just because they’re new. “Knowing more about the world around you just makes life better,” he wrote. “In another decade, we are going to look back and wonder how we ever got by without this.”

Some of his former teammates aren’t sure his thesis has aged well. “I don’t think anything like Highlight, in how it was conceived, would work as well today,” said a former Math Camp employee, who asked not to be identified to avoid professional repercussions. “Paul is very optimistic, almost to a fault.”

After a white-hot week in Austin, interest in Highlight cooled. It was unclear what the app should be used for. Dating?

Networking? Connecting with friends? Many people never got comfortable with the privacy implications, and those who did got annoyed by how the GPS-intensive app drained their batteries. As people drifted away, Math Camp spent the next couple of years trying to see what else might catch on.

Pushing the digital boundaries of what people are comfortable with became a Davison signature. In those days, that involved building consumer apps that nudged people to share more by default. “He’s just constantly generating ideas,” said Ansari, the venture capitalist who was an investor in Math Camp. “Very creative, very high energy.”

When Ansari visited Davison during this period, the entrepreneur often had some new gadget he was trying out. “He was one of the first people I saw wearing Google Glass,” Ansari said.

In 2015, Math Camp released an app called Roll, which asked users to share every photo from their camera roll to a set of friends. The startup recruited college students to promote it on campus. Carolyn Liu said she was paid around $1,000 to pass out stickers and urge her classmates at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, to download the app.

“People got kind of weirded out, but then some people really liked it,” she said. Liu remembers Davison interviewing her about why she and her friends took pictures and what they took pictures of. “Roll was kind of a flop, but also, you could tell that he was learning along the way,” Liu said.

The next year, the company relaunched the automatic-photo-sharing app as Shorts, which caught the attention of technology enthusiasts who were skeptical of the concept. “It was pretty aggressive,” said Ansari. A Verge article called it “insane.” In response, Davison said, “We enjoy thinking about places where we could push people a little bit.”

By this point, Davison recognized Math Camp was losing momentum. He met with the CEOs of Dropbox Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. about selling the business, said Ansari, who by then was running corporate development at Pinterest Inc.

Ansari convinced his bosses and Davison to do a deal, and Pinterest acquired Math Camp. But Davison soon became frustrated with how life inside a bigger company moved slower than his regular, frenetic pace.

Davison left Pinterest after about two years and in 2019 reconnected with an old acquaintance named Rohan Seth. At the time, Seth was looking for help raising money for a research effort to treat his young daughter’s rare disease. The two decided to give social media startups “one last try,” they wrote in a company blog post. They introduced Talkshow, which eventually morphed into Clubhouse.

Clubhouse quickly generated buzz among Valley insiders selected to try the service, including some top venture capitalists who invested in the parent company Alpha Exploration Co. within just a few months. Andreessen Horowitz first bought shares valuing the company at $100 million and then again at 10 times that price. (Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has invested in Andreessen Horowitz.)

“I look at a lot of social products,” said Ryan Hoover, a founder of the app directory Product Hunt and an early investor in Clubhouse. “Very few capture this magic, this feeling of, This is fresh, this is new, this is exciting.”

The qualities that make Clubhouse feel casual and personal can also facilitate deception, critics have said. The app’s guidelines effectively forbid recording, which has made Clubhouse a seemingly safe place to spread lies or bully without consequences. But Hoover said he believed the ephemerality makes the app special. “It better reflects how we communicate in the real world and encourages a more authentic conversation,” he said.

Like Highlight, Clubhouse doesn’t give people a clear reason to use it, and that has actually turned out to be an asset. In the absence of any prescriptions, Clubhouse can be a place to hear Elon Musk talk about Bitcoin, get an audio news briefing, listen to musicians sing lullabies or learn how to game the stock market. In one recurring room, people just make whale moaning sounds together.

Davison shows an increasing awareness that a fast-rising number of users brings some rotten ones, but it doesn’t seem to have changed his views on the goodness of people. “The thing about Clubhouse is, we’re building it for everyone in the world, and the reality is, there are bad actors in the world,” he said in a Clubhouse talk last week. “There are people that aren’t necessarily ill-intentioned but enjoy testing the limits of systems and trying things out.”

On Sunday, when Davison announced that Clubhouse had stopped prompting users for full contact list access, he insisted the data request was innocent. “It’s totally optional,” Davison said in a talk on Clubhouse. “It does make the experience a lot better for you, I think. And it’s not used for anything else. But if you don’t want to, that’s totally fine.”

Clubhouse turns a year old on Wednesday. Davison has said he wants to expand the room capacity—usually capped at around 5,000 listeners—to an infinite size, so they can accommodate musicals, news conferences, sports post-game analyses, political rallies and big company all-hands meetings. And while he’s excited about those, Davison is even more jazzed about what he can’t envision yet.

“The ways people use Clubhouse are just mind-blowing to me,” Davison told a virtual roomful of listeners, his voice quickening.

“If you think about how video evolved, we sort of went from this world where you had broadcast television, and we had four channels, and everyone watched the same thing at seven o’clock on a Thursday, to cable television in the 90s, where you had 400 channels suddenly, and that led to 24-hour news channels and golf channels and fishing channels and home shopping networks.

“And then we got YouTube, which was crazy,” Davison continued. “And suddenly you got unboxing videos and ASMR and top-10 videos and crazy things that no one ever would have expected. Because people are amazing, right?”

Updated: 3-21-2021

All About Clubhouse, A Gabfest Behind A Velvet Rope

It’s been years since a U.S. social media platform has broken through. But in 2021, Clubhouse has become a cultural phenomenon, attracting celebrities, a $1 billion valuation and plenty of controversy. Modeled after a conference or festival like South by Southwest, users can “drop in” to audio chats focused on topics ranging from music critique to business advice.

The Silicon Valley elite made up its initial audience, and they continue to have an outsized influence on the app’s environment. While still invite-only and exclusive to the iPhone, Clubhouse is expanding rapidly, and celebrated its first birthday on St. Patrick’s Day, 2021.

1. What Is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is an audio-only social media app known for its unconstrained conversations, celebrity backers and invite-only status. The experience falls somewhere between call-in radio and a professional conference. Users self-select into rooms based on interest, and engage in live conversation. Room moderators decide who is able to speak, and it’s common to see rooms with dozens of active participants. The still-in-beta app exploded in popularity at the start of 2021, reaching 8 million downloads by mid-February despite limiting enrollment.

2. Who’s Behind It?

Clubhouse is the creation of two serial entrepreneurs, Rohan Seth and Paul Davison, who called it their “last try” at creating a social app. Davison’s previous app, Highlight, which connected nearby users with similar interests, drew attention at SXSW in 2012 but fizzled out shortly after.

Eventually, the company was sold to Pinterest. Seth’s company, Memry Labs, created many social apps, such as Dayfie, which facilitated selfie-a-day timelapses, and was eventually sold to Opendoor Technologies Inc. in 2017. Seth and Davidson connected for the first time in 2011, after somehow never meeting while overlapping at both Stanford University and Google.

3. Why Is It So Popular?

Much of Clubhouse’s explosive success has been attributed to A-list celebrity co-signs: Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates have all appeared on the app. Fans have described a sense of access to public figures and thought leaders that feels different from less intimate or interactive social media platforms.

Plus, content is generally non-recordable, leading some to dub the app a “FOMO machine” — catch a session now, or it’s gone forever. Popularity in the tech and VC crowd is often linked to early and enthusiastic support by venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz.

(Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has invested in Andreessen Horowitz.) The app has also been described as a hub for Black creators like Bomani X, whose face was once featured on the app’s icon. Plus, in an era of endless Zoom meetings and FaceTime catch-ups, many have found audio-only socializing refreshing.

Global Party Line

Clubhouse app’s downloads are soaring this year.

4. What Problems Has It Had?

The qualities that make Clubhouse feel casual and personal can also facilitate deception, critics have said. The restrictions on recording has also made Clubhouse a seemingly safe place to spread lies or bully without consequences.

Clubhouse has been used to spread misinformation about Covid-19 and racist and misogynistic content. While moderation difficulties are not unique to Clubhouse, live audio presents a particular challenge in comparison with text-based competitors like Twitter or Facebook.

5. Does It Have Competitors?

Many companies are trying to cash in on the success of Clubhouse. Twitter Inc. has responded with Spaces, an audio-only feature, and Facebook Inc. is said to be working on a competitor. Mark Cuban and tech founder Falon Fatemi are working on Fireside, a live audio app that encourages recording, unlike Clubhouse. Although China banned the app following conversations on taboo topics, many copycats have popped up in the country, and giants such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. have begun testing audio-only chats on their platforms.

On a more abstract level, Clubhouse considers itself a competitor to conferences, parties and other in-person events. This has led some to wonder how Clubhouse will fare in a post-vaccinated world, once traditional networking events are taking place — along with all the normal forms of entertainment that once again will compete for time and attention.

6. How Does It Make Money?

So far, it doesn’t. Clubhouse has yet to generate any revenue, despite raising at least $110 million over multiple rounds of funding, most recently in January at a $1 billion valuation. The company plans to test subscriptions, tipping, ticket sales and other ways to allow creators to make money from their club rooms, all based on the premise that people will be willing to pay for Clubhouse content.

This will fund a Creator Grant Program to give stars on the platform a reason to stick around. Clubhouse says its business model will not rely on advertising, and it will not share user data with advertisers or brokers; its privacy policy was recently updated to reflect that. No one knows how big Clubhouse would have to be to become profitable, but that hasn’t deterred investors and millions of users.

7. How Can I Get In?

Currently, Clubhouse is invite-only — each member is periodically allowed to invite a handful more. If you’re not one of the 10 million who’ve received an invite thus far, you can turn to the secondary market. EBay Inc. lists Clubhouse invites at between $3 and $25.

The company has not set a timeline for public availability, and said it wants to grow slowly to ensure stability, safety and diversity. In a February Clubhouse interview with Bill Gates, Davison said that Android functionality is the “top feature” they’re working on.

Updated: 4-11-2021

More Than A Million Clubhouse Users Had Their Account Info Leaked Online

Large-scale data leaks have become almost a rite of passage for new social networks. If Clubhouse wasn’t part of the, erm, club before, it is now.

Cyber News reported over the weekend that personal data for around 1.3 million users was scraped from the trendy voice chatroom app and posted on a hacker forum. The compromised data included names, handles for other linked social media accounts, and the username of whoever invited said user, as Clubhouse is still in an invite-only stage.

Clubhouse didn’t immediately respond to Mashable’s request for comment, but the official Clubhouse Twitter account pushed back against the idea that there was a hack, saying the leaked information is already public via the app’s API.

That may technically be accurate, but the end result is still that the data is now available in a collected and searchable format when it wasn’t before. It also begs the question of why all of that information is included in Clubhouse’s API. Things like real names and the user IDs of those who invited them to the app could be considered important enough to keep behind some kind of digital lock.

That also doesn’t preclude the possibility of another, more disastrous leak later on down the line. Clubhouse hasn’t seen a Cambridge Analytica-level catastrophe yet in its short life, but a couple of security concerns have made headlines in 2021 already. Simply releasing a list of people’s real names could, for example, lead to phishing schemes or other nefarious online deeds outside of Clubhouse itself.

Regardless of the actual level of danger associated with this particular data leak, it’ll be worth watching Clubhouse’s handling of data security going forward. If this sort of thing can hit Facebook or Twitter, it feels like it’s only a matter of time for most other social networks.

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FireEye Hack Portends A Scary Era Of Cyber-Insecurity

How FinCEN Became A Honeypot For Sensitive Personal Data

Apple And Google To Stop X-Mode From Collecting Location Data From Users’ Phones

Surge In Physical Threats During Pandemic Complicates Employee Security Efforts

Imagine A Nutrition Label—for Cybersecurity

Cybercriminals Attack GoDaddy-based Cryptocurrency Platforms

Biden Team Lacks Full U.S. Cybersecurity Support In Transition Fracas

Nasdaq To Buy Anti-Financial Crime Firm Verafin For $2.75 Billion

Mysterious Software Bugs Were Used To Hack iPhones and Android Phones and No One Will Talk About It

Dark Web Hackers Say They Hold Keys To 10,000 Robinhood Accounts #GotBitcoin

Hackers Steal $2.3 Million From Trump Wisconsin Campaign Account

Crypto Scammers Deface Trump Campaign Website One Week From Elections

Telecoms Protocol From 1975 Exploited To Target 20 Crypto Executives

With Traders Far From Offices, Banks Bring Surveillance To Homes

Financial Systems Set Up To Monitor Unemployment Insurance Fraud Are Being Overloaded (#GotBlockchain?)

A Millionaire Hacker’s Lessons For Corporate America

Container Shipping Line CMA CGM Says Data Possibly Stolen In Cyberattack

Major Hospital System Hit With Cyberattack, Potentially Largest In U.S. History

Hacker Releases Information On Las Vegas-Area Students After Officials Don’t Pay Ransom

Russian Troll Farms Posing As African-American Support For Donald Trump

US Moves To Seize Cryptocurrency Accounts Linked To North Korean Heists

These Illicit SIM Cards Are Making Hacks Like Twitter’s Easier

Uber Exec Allegedly Concealed 2016 Hack With $100K BTC ‘Bug Bounty’ Pay-Off

Senate Panel’s Russia Probe Found Counterintelligence Risks In Trump’s 2016 Campaign

Bockchain Based Surveillance Camera Technology Detects Crime In Real-Time

Trump Bans TicToc For Violating Your Privacy Rights While Giving US-Based Firm Go Ahead (#GotBitcoin?)

Facebook Offers Money To Reel In TikTok Creators

How A Facebook Employee Helped Trump Win—But Switched Sides For 2020

Facebook Rebuffs Barr, Moves Ahead on Messaging Encryption

Facebook Ad Rates Fall As Coronavirus Undermines Ad Spending

Facebook Labels Trump Posts On Grounds That He’s Inciting Violence

Crypto Prediction Markets Face Competition From Facebook ‘Forecasts’ (#GotBitcoin?)

Coronavirus Is The Pin That Burst Facebook And Google Online Ads Business Bubble

OpenLibra Plans To Launch Permissionless Fork Of Facebook’s Stablecoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Facebook Warns Investors That Libra Stablecoin May Never Launch (#GotBitcoin?)

FTC Approves Roughly $5 Billion Facebook Settlement (#GotBitcoin?)

How Facebook Coin’s Big Corporate Backers Will Profit From Crypto

Facebook’s Libra Is Bad For African Americans (#GotBitcoin?)

A Monumental Fight Over Facebook’s Cryptocurrency Is Coming (#GotBitcoin?)

Alert! 540 Million Facebook Users’ Data Exposed On Amazon Servers (#GotBitcoin?)

Facebook Bug Potentially Exposed Unshared Photos of Up 6.8 Million Users (#GotBitcoin?)

Facebook Says Millions of Users’ Passwords Were Improperly Stored in Internal Systems (#GotBitcoin?)

Advertisers Allege Facebook Failed to Disclose Key Metric Error For More Than A Year (#GotBitcoin?)

Ad Agency CEO Calls On Marketers To Take Collective Stand Against Facebook (#GotBitcoin?)

Thieves Can Now Nab Your Data In A Few Minutes For A Few Bucks (#GotBitcoin?)

New Crypto Mining Malware Beapy Uses Leaked NSA Hacking Tools: Symantec Research (#GotBitcoin?)

Equifax, FICO Team Up To Sell Your Financial Data To Banks (#GotBitcoin?)

Cyber-Security Alert!: FEMA Leaked Data Of 2.3 Million Disaster Survivors (#GotBitcoin?)

DMV Hacked! Your Personal Records Are Now Being Transmitted To Croatia (#GotBitcoin?)

Lithuanian Man Pleads Guilty In $100 Million Fraud Against Google, Facebook (#GotBitcoin?)

Hack Alert! Buca Di Beppo, Owned By Earl Enterprises Suffers Data Breach Of 2M Cards (#GotBitcoin?)

SEC Hack Proves Bitcoin Has Better Data Security (#GotBitcoin?)

Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) Rises As Banking Industry’s Overseer (#GotBitcoin?)

FICO Plans Big Shift In Credit-Score Calculations, Potentially Boosting Millions of Borrowers (#GotBitcoin?)

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