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Exclusive app 'Clubhouse' challenging social media paradigm Updated: 2021-02-18 10:06:04 KST

The new U.S. social media app called Clubhouse is a social network, but an exclusive one.
But how does it differ from platforms like Facebook and Twitter?

"The way the app works is pretty simple. Once you get an invitation, click the app on your smartphone. Scroll down and select the one room you would like to be in. If you want to join the conversation, raise your hand or you can just sit back and listen."

The operators, on their website, say they believe that instead of just typing text, engagement by voice can form unique human connections and can challenge people to take part in tough conversations.
Also, the app is invite-only, so you have to get an invitation from another user.

There's no way to send text to the chat room, and the app doesn't let you record audio. The conversation topics cover everything from finance to workplace gossip, and many of the biggest rooms are led by celebrities and influencers.
Gaining more than 6 million users since it started less than a year ago, Clubhouse has reached South Korea too.

"In the conversations on the app, I felt like I was meeting new people. I like how I can listen to people from various professional backgrounds without limitations of time or location. As a jobseeker, what I like the most is when I can hear from professionals in a given field."

The invite-only system and its exclusivity has led some users in Korea to sell their invitations online for as much as 19-thousand won or around 17 U.S. dollars, which some see as a negative side effect.

"I think the negative side is that it can be a very exclusive community. To join, you need an invitation and an iPhone, and you need permission in the rooms to speak. You can't use the app if you're not the chosen one."

So why do so many people want to use it? Experts say it might be in part because of the pandemic.

"Since the pandemic hit, people have been longing for human relationships. There's also a lot of boredom with social media that's text-based. That's why people are turning to voice-based platforms to fulfill a desire to communicate with others."

But the audio-only system itself presents issues of accessibility.

"It's important to bring out innovative communication tools, but if these exclude vulnerable groups like the hearing-impaired, then they go against the aim of creating a space for communication."

Clubhouse has also been criticized about privacy because all the conversations are stored by the operator for a "temporary" but unspecified amount of time.
They say this is only to track possible abuses on the app, but privacy is another issue for the developers to work out as it grows.
Choi Won-jong, Arirang News.
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