Clubhouse, a drop-in audio chat app, which has become a global phenomenon over the last months, will likely solidify its positions and secure long-term popularity among users worldwide, but may opt to introduce stricter censorship rules, experts told Sputnik
MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 02nd March, 2021) Clubhouse, a drop-in audio chat app, which has become a global phenomenon over the last months, will likely solidify its positions and secure long-term popularity among users worldwide, but may opt to introduce stricter censorship rules, experts told Sputnik.
Clubhouse's distinctive feature is an exclusive access to the app, when only the existing users have the limited amount of invites which they can send out to their friends. The conversations held on the platform cannot be recorded and a user might be banned from the platform for attempting to record the stream.
The app allows users to host and listen to live conversations on any given topic. Clubhouse has been gaining immense popularity and media attention, especially when billionaires Elon Musk and Bill Gates joined the app alongside many celebrities and social media influencers. Since January, the number of users surged by 4 million, while the app itself reached a valuation of over $1 billion according to the SoftwarePundit technology research firm.
ON PATH TO BECOMING SOCIAL MEDIA STAPLE
Despite the overnight success, it is unlikely that Clubhouse will face the path of short-lived sensation apps like Periscope, which quickly lost popularity, and will be discontinued this month, according to the experts.
"The fate of Periscope turned out to be sad, because Instagram mastered the feature of live broadcasts on time, and an additional app was not needed. We are now seeing Facebook and several other platforms trying to replicate the success of Clubhouse by creating audio chat options, but it seems that it will not help them. Clubhouse has created an elite system by the invite-only options to join the app as well as content. You can have a conversation with a celebrity in one touch, just by raising your hand, so you have these VIPs at arm's length," Evgeny Gutsal, co-founder and general producer of Divico video production agency and an expert in social media, told Sputnik.
"Audio was always going to be the next big trend to reach new heights. The timing of Clubhouse is excellent. We've been predicting it for a few years now, especially since the rise of podcasts in both popularity and monetary value. Clubhouse will remain popular long-term provided it can maintain the momentum when it's open to the general public and Android users and provided it can appeal to brands too," Malik, the author of best selling ebook "Slashed It," told Sputnik.
Clubhouse's success is built on the integration of all major trends into one service, Yulia Belskaya, the head of product and strategy with Havas Media, part of one of Russia's leading communication groups, ADV, told Sputnik.
"We attribute the success of the platform to the fact that the app has brought together all the hot trends: being 'here and now,' love for audio, networking for the elite, a platform for self-promotion, it is a unique combination. Time will tell whether this success will last. Most likely yes since all these trends are quite stable and did not emerge yesterday," Belskaya said.
The pandemic, which has locked many people at home with limited social interactions, has definitely contributed to the rise of Clubhouse, Ilya Glukhov, a senior social media manager with digital agency VBI, noted.
"I believe that Clubhouse will be able to maintain its popularity and become one of the market leaders. As the saying goes, every project needs to appear at the right time and in the right place. Now, during the pandemic, we all lack live human communication, while Clubhouse solves our 'pain.' To be honest, being an extrovert, I myself lack communication and Clubhouse is very helpful with that. Initially, I assumed that this application would not work for antisocial people, but despite the huge growth of rooms inside the Clubhouse, I see that 'antisocial' social clubs appear as well," Glukhov told Sputnik.
As Twitter and Facebook are working on introducing audio chats options too, the chat room format of interaction will likely become common and apps like Clubhouse will "turn into a routine for us like scrolling through Instagram in the morning or watching YouTube during lunch," the expert added.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH TO BE SHORT-LIVED?
As Clubhouse is still in a testing mode, moderation and censorship so far has been limited, but experts agree that the platform will gradually introduce stricter rules, while the conversations themselves will become more structured and professional.
"Soon there will be more understanding and tools for structuring the content, but we should not forget that this platform is open to UGC (User Generated Content): professional communities have already formed inside, but the social network will not become perfectly structured as it does not have a single moderator. At the same time, Clubhouse will try to use additional rules of censorship, following modern tendencies in tightening the use of mass information and personal data," Belskaya, the Havas Media expert, said.
Malik, the UK-based social media expert, believes that there is a need for making the rules of Clubhouse stricter if the number of users continues to increase rapidly.
"There will definitely need to be stricter rules if the number of users continues to grow because moderation is key on Clubhouse. I'm not sure they'd need to be as strict as Facebook right now, but if they grew to be as big as Facebook, then it will absolutely be a factor Clubhouse will need to consider. Censorship is a tricky subject because on the one hand, you want to give people freedom of speech, but on the other hand, you want to eradicate anything that is harmful or hateful. Wrong is wrong, but when you have millions of opinions to weigh, 'wrong' starts to feel subjective to specific groups of people," Malik underlined.
Gutsal, the co-founder of the Divico video production agency, notes that Clubhouse has already banned several people, who have received complaints from users, including some prominent Russian celebrities and tv hosts.
However Clubhouse may not have enough funds right now to secure effective moderation on the platform and in light of this, the app might be bought by some IT giant in the future, Glukhov, a social media expert, concluded.