Launched amidst the pandemic in March 2020 with only 1500 users and a net worth of USD 100 million, the Clubhouse app soared up the digital market with a current count of estimated 10 million users and worth USD 1 billion in just 11 months aside from other found funding. The app became famous as it is a so-called modern-day promotion of exclusivity. This means that a special invite is needed from its existing member currently on a threshold of 2 invites per user to access the app. Instructions are delivered through SMS from app installation to user account creation. Upon accessing the app, new users can select a topic of interest ranging from beauty and health, business, technology, etc. Members can listen to the topic of their interest that is broadcasted live by the host member on the platform. A sort of online meeting that only members can attend, but no recordings can be created for privacy and exclusivity. This means, once the scheduled discussion has been completed, everything about it is deleted.
This promised exclusivity made the Clubhouse app popular, especially when everything is quickly published on social media in an instant. This can be considered an excellent tool for expressing their feelings and thoughts, especially in places like China. The suppression is authentic in that country. Therefore, the Clubhouse app is the safe haven of expression without being sanctioned as all evidence is deleted.
Though it was published to be not available in Chinese cyberspace, the Clubhouse app still made its way. This has given members in the said suppressed area the freedom to voice their thoughts from banned topics in their country. With monitored growing numbers of Chinese users, the app has been recently completely blocked by the ‘Great Firewall’ security of China in their cyberspace.
Currently, the Clubhouse app is on fire surrounding controversy regarding its exclusivity. With the use of other technology and devices, evidence of such can be recorded, else we can-do live streaming like an instance that a discussion was viewed on Youtube. Also, the researcher digging deep about the app confirmed that the back-end services of Clubhouse are being catered by Agora company, where its main office is in Shanghai. Agora company confirmed that they do not hold a repository of this metadata to contradict any false accusation in an official statement.
However, this has aroused speculation from the researcher that the Clubhouse app can be compromised and benefit the Chinese government.
With their found vulnerability on the app’s metadata services and the Chinese government’s persistent drive to monitor anything in cyberspace, especially within their region, it can substantiate the researcher’s claim for the possibility of the alleged leakage. The researcher confirmed that the user’s information is submitted to the back-end services confirmed unencrypted, which makes it susceptible to such intrusion.
In response to the report submitted, the Clubhouse app developer confirmed they are already upgrading their services to add security. In mitigation, they are already considering hiring a third-party security expert to tighten the app’s exclusivity and privacy, especially the information of their users.