A New Trend on Social Media, Clubhouse1)
Clubhouse, an audio social networking service, has become popular. Clubhouse is an SNS that was launched in April of last year by the U.S. startup AlphaExploration. Unique to Clubhouse is its communications by voice without texting, writing, photography, or video. However, as of February, only iPhone or iPad users are able to register for the SNS because it only operates on the IOS operating system. Nevertheless, its popularity has grown considerably at home and abroad. According to market research company apps and statistics, the number of domestic downloads of Clubhouse was at 195,000 as of February 17th. While the number of worldwide downloads is 8.1 million, the number of overseas interest in the SNS is not small. In other words, there is a large number of users despite being only available on the IOS operating system. Clubhouse is unique in that it is a closed SNS. New users can only join when invited by a current member. Many celebrities have been invited to Clubhouse and are using it actively. In Korea, influential persons such as SK Group Chairperson Choi Taewon and Prime Minister Chung Syekyun have joined and they have inspired others to join. The number of users was around 40,000 on February 8, but has since surpassed 190,000 in just a week.
Clubhouse, though its popularity is growing, has both positive and negative effects. On the plus side, Clubhouse allows for real-time communications, which are needed during the COVID-19 pandemic when people cannot meet face-to-face. In fact, Lexie, manager of App Annie said, "COVID-19 has brought about a new trend in the SNS app market, and this trend will continue for a while." Clubhouse has filled a void with its voice-based communication. However, its number of users has soared dramatically in just a short period of time, and that is problematic. Security issues have been raised. According to Bloomberg News on February 22, a hacker stole audio data from a room where live discussions were being held and gave it to a third-party website. Moreover, the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) mentioned that "Clubhouse cannot guarantee privacy in terms of dialogues." Therefore, it is a need to find solutions to the lack of privacy and gain trust in the SNS security. Criticisms has also been made about discrimination and disgust in dialogues. The Korea Intelligence Information Society Agency announced that, "The problem is something that most services based on this new format will experience, so Clubhouse needs to establish improved guidelines to prevent such occurrences." As the statement shows, measures have yet been created to deal with the problem. Users, themselves, need to watch carefully and force companies to take action against the negative effects.
1) Noh JeongYeon, "No.1 Application Download 'Clubhouse'…Concerns Over Security and Discrimination Increase Due to Rapid Expansion", The Kyunghyang Shinmun, February 23, 2021