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My Clubhouse App 180

March 10, 2021 in Out of the Classroom - No Comments

My Clubhouse App 180

March 10, 2021 in Out of the Classroom - No Comments
Image of a road sign showing a U turn

Well that was a short-lived rollercoaster! I was instantly intrigued, then hooked, and now disenfranchised with the Clubhouse App. Here’s why.

Just last week I posted an article explaining the benefits of Clubhouse for teachers and other educators.

I have to say, my first few days on the app were fantastic! I gained so much new knowledge, met some great people, and felt a real sense of connection. It was just like being on a group phone call, but with smart and funny people who have something valuable to share. I got help with some social media management stuff I was struggling with, I chatted with other mums about the struggles of mum life, I even sat in on some extremely valuable conversations about the adoption of lawtech.

But then I started to get a bit wary. The whole experience started to feel a bit icky, a bit too open, and a bit too… not-nice.

I’ll preface this by saying I didn’t have any negative interactions on the app. No one was nasty to me, quite the opposite actually.

But.

Why Are People Listening?

The lawtech room I was in had an absolutely brilliant conversation about the barriers stopping lawyers from adopting lawtech (not dissimilar to edtech). I gained so much insight from this conversation, it was fantastic! Then the following couple of days, I saw two separate articles referencing exactly what we had discussed in the room. These articles are behind a paywall.

Another room I was in was full of mums discussing anxiety. It was incredibly supportive, and raw, and honest. A truly brilliant room giving time and space to women in need of support.  But after I left the room, I began to feel uneasy again. The things that those women were revealing were incredibly vulnerable and private. They were revealing their inner selves to essentially a room full of internet strangers.

Yet another room I was in was discussing a completely different set of rooms – ones where they were changing profile pictures to breasts and making a game of guessing who they belonged to; another one where people were judging sexual audio content.

I’ve also seen many, many reports of people voicing their ideas for products, services, etc., and having those ideas stolen from them. They turn around the next day to discover that someone listening to the room has taken that idea and actualized it overnight. People are literally stealing IP right then and there.

And perhaps most concerningly, a genuine friend of a friend was stalked in real life after interacting in a room. The man started harassing her on that platform, then through his own means discovered her phone number and email address, and started harassing and then stalking her.

False Security

The great thing about Clubhouse is that you truly feel like you’re on a phone call with a group of great people. The worst thing about Clubhouse is that you truly feel like you’re on a phone call. The app even advertises that it is a non-recording voice app. These two things combined make it feel like what you are saying will stay in that room, and be lost into the ether once the room closes.

Except that there could be literally thousands of people listening to your phone call, and you have exactly zero idea of their intentions. Anyone can listen in on your room. As a moderator you have the power to kick people out or set private rooms, but that’s about as far as it goes. Even if there are only a handful of people in the room, you still don’t know what their intentions are.

There are now apps built exclusively for recording Clubhouse room chats, and you don’t know it’s happening.

In terms of us teachers, it could be so very easy to inadvertently break confidentiality laws and regulations. One slip of the tongue, and you’ve accidentally named a student, a colleague, or your school. While I’d sincerely hope that wouldn’t come back to bite you, who knows. Heck, your principal could be in the audience and you may never know.

I’m wary of the people lurking in the corners looking for prey. They’re looking for people to reveal their vulnerabilities. They’re looking for ways to monetize and steal IP. Someone in that lawtech room had taken the conversation and monetized it. That just doesn’t sit right with me. I feel like they should have at least spoken up in the room to say that they were sourcing content there (to be fair, maybe they did and I just missed it). Maybe I’m overracting, but it just made me feel a bit icky.

Sure, this happens across all other social media platforms. But because Clubhouse is new and shiny, I urge you to be careful. The moderation processes are not great. The reporting and banning processes are not great.

I truly believe this platform has fantastic potential. I’m sure that out of the millions of users, the vast majority are having positive experiences.

But just be wary.

I’ve made the decision to not interact on Clubhouse the way I had initially intended. I may listen in and even contribute to rooms in the future, but for now I won’t be hosting any myself for teachers. I think the risks are a bit too great at the moment.

What do you think? Do you love Clubhouse, or is it not right for you?

Emily

Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys sharing the real and human teacher life, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine.

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