By Burton Kelso
If you are active on social media, you have probably heard about the new social network Clubhouse. If not, real estate coach Lee Davenport wrote all about Clubhouse and how useful it is for agents and brokers in her latest YPN Lounge post. Any time a new social media app appears on the scene, there are always issues about your privacy and security. I’m sure many of you have the following questions: Will it give away my location? How much information will I have to share to get signed up? Am I OK with my kids signing up for Clubhouse?
My tips below will give you a quick overview of the privacy, safety, and security features in Clubhouse to help you protect your personal information.
1. How to get started with clubhouse. At the time of this writing, Clubhouse is currently an invitation-only platform. In order to join, someone needs to send you an invitation. If you are already on Clubhouse, you can send an SMS or text invitation from the app. Once you join the app, you’ll have to enter your phone number. You’ll have the option to import your profile from Twitter, choose a user name and your profile photo. You can also choose if you want the app to have access to your contacts. As the last step, you’ll be asked to pick your interests which are used to help Clubhouse suggest “rooms” for you to participate in.
2. How Clubhouse works. When you log into the app, you’ll be presented with the lobby which displays rooms that are active. You also have the option to start a new room. Rooms are separated by moderators, speakers, and listeners. Rooms can be set up as open to anyone, limited to the moderator’s followers, or limited to only those invited. The rooms in Clubhouse resemble a podcast or talk radio show. The appeal of Clubhouse is that you can pop in and out as you want and consume content on your schedule. Since it’s a voice-only platform, you can participate in rooms while doing other things. This is a change from Zoom or Skype meetings where you have to “show up” for video media.
3. Is Clubhouse safe? One of the good things about Clubhouse is it doesn’t ask for a lot of your personal information and it doesn’t share your location like other social media apps. The only things listed in your profile are your username, the number of people you follow, and the number of followers you have. You have the option to add a short bio, and links to your Twitter and Instagram accounts. Another good thing about the app is it allows you to quickly deal with other users who could potentially harass you.
The Clubhouse app has limited access to your smartphone, which means information on your smartphone has a very low risk of being leaked. The app doesn’t have access to your camera, location information, or your photos. You will be asked to give access to your microphone to allow you to speak in rooms. You will also be asked to give access to your contacts to give you the ability to send out invitations to your friends and associates.
As a Clubhouse user, you can block or report another user. Moderators of rooms have a number of tools at their disposal to boot disruptive or offensive people in rooms.
Clubhouse does collect your data, but it currently appears they only use it for their needs, and they don’t sell it to third-party vendors.
4. Can kids use Clubhouse? Even though this app is very popular, it’s not designed for anyone under the age of 18 at all. But there is no age verification in the app or content filters. This is important to know because there are adult rooms in Clubhouse and most likely your kids will be interacting with strangers. Because of this, you should not let your kids join.
At this time, Clubhouse appears to be a fresh breath of air compared to other social media apps available. You can use this app with relative ease and not have to worry about which settings to deactivate to prevent the app from sharing your personal data. As the app grows, the privacy settings could change. If you have an iPhone and want to take part in Clubhouse, do so with peace of mind knowing that your information is safe and secure.
Burton Kelso is the chief technology expert at Integral, which provides computer repair and tech support for the home and office. Integral can fix Windows, Macintosh, servers, printers, routers, smart-home technology, and everything else that connects to the internet. Learn more at callintegralnow.com.