Since its launch last year, the invite-only social media app Clubhouse has generated a lot of rumors. Social media has been around long enough for everything old to be new again, and unlike other apps that encourage users to share links or fragmentary thoughts in exchange for 'likes', Clubhouse facilitates voice conversations with your phone. Essentially, you can choose a topic and host your own panel discussion with friends. If you're lucky you can join a conversation and share your thoughts with the likes of Elon Musk or some of the site's famous and influential users.
However, I regret to inform you that a growing number of journalists are deeply troubled by the growing popularity of Clubhouse. Why? It looks like Clubhouse won't be housing their inner Big Brother.
In GritDaily, an online publication that bills itself as "the premier source of news about Millennial and Gen Z brands – from fashion, technology, influencers, entrepreneurship and life," staff writer Olivia Smith focused on the new app in a late January story. Her main complaint was that she "had an alarming amount of casual sexism" heard. However, readers have to take her word for it, which was the point of her criticism – and in some ways the point of the app itself.
"At club house", Smith wrote, “There are no screenshots. There is no way to drag up old Clubhouse posts years later like a user would on Twitter. There's no way to record conversations – meaning there's no way to prove that someone said anything controversial at all. There is no path to accountability. Clubhouse users know, or at least believe, that they can express their views openly without any consequences. "
Smith also claimed that in a conversation she overheard, "a moderator was actively spreading misinformation" about the COVID vaccine and a female African doctor who objected was "bullied" to leave the conversation.
This article sparked a follow-up to the website of the Poynter Institute – the journalistic foundation that launched PolitiFact – by a prominent Poynter editor. In a Feb. 11 article headlined, & # 39; A Fact-Checker Lands on Clubhouse, & # 39; Poynter & # 39; s Cristina Tardáguila, approvingly quoted Olivia Smith & # 39; s concerns about the lack of a written report on Clubhouse, and added one of her own. “The lack of these features will certainly create barriers for fact checkers. Not only will it be difficult to choose which club to join, but Clubhouse also requires fact-checkers to spend hours and hours listening to conversations before selecting which claims to review. "
For those old enough to remember that unrecorded conversations about culture and politics were normal, let alone preferable to the social media hellscape we have today, this attitude is shocking. The & # 39; path to accountability & # 39; of social media increasingly consists of firing random people from their jobs and making national contempt for a single uncomfortable or misinterpreted comment that may not be representative of a lifelong behavior. Those who follow this path to social justice seem oblivious to the most chilling aspect of their behavior: they unwittingly mimic the behavior of tyrants and totalitarian regimes everywhere. Or, sometimes act consciously: here's the kicker for Cristina Tardáguila & # 39; s Poynter piece: “Would it be best for them to ignore Clubhouse for now, given the myriad of other platforms fact-checkers have to contend with? … After a rare moment of cross-border dialogue between users from mainland China and others outside the country, Chinese censorship set in. If Xi Jinping's government doesn't ignore Clubhouse, why should fact-checkers? Why would you?"
New York Times technical reporter Taylor Lorenz also put Clubhouse in their sights, with instructive results.
Earlier this month, Lorenz jumped on Twitter and accused legendary venture capitalist Marc Andreessen of using the word "retarded" on Clubhouse in an unfavorable way and complained that "not one other person called him on it". It turned out that Andreessen was not the speaker who used that word, and it was not considered a & # 39; blemish & # 39; used, as Lorenz claimed. It originated in reference to a name that the online community “Wall Street Bets” (recently in the news for stirring the stock market) had given itself.
One day such an irresponsible accusation would save a reporter time in the criminal court. Lorenz got the chance instead to co-write a Times piece highly critical of the app, noting that it "struggles with harassment, misinformation and privacy concerns". That may all be true, but how does that distinguish Clubhouse from Facebook or Twitter, for example, which journalists enjoy using on a daily basis?
And it was journalists who led the charge of having the right-wing social media app Parler disappear after the Capitol riot last month, even as subsequent indictment documents and other evidence show that the vast majority of the planning for the uprising was done. on Facebook. . Perhaps one of the reasons there hasn't been a serious move to de-platform Facebook is that Mark Zuckerberg's behemoth provides a large chunk of revenue for the publications that pay the salaries of our perpetually censored journalists. Those are the types of conflicts of interest that reporters once felt free to investigate in a more favorable economic environment.
Instead, Clubhouse's real problem seems to be that people can have real conversations. The New York Times & # 39; officially announced Twitter account Lorenz's story by noting that "unobstructed conversations are happening at Clubhouse, an invite-only app that allows people to congregate in audio chat rooms … despite their concerns about harassment, misinformation and privacy." Although the Times & # 39; unbound & # 39; probably not used literally – after seeing journalists praise Xi Jinping & # 39; s approach to freedom of speech, it is hard to say – it is revealing that shackles are chains used to keep people from escaping.
If the medium is the message, Clubhouse tries to harness at least some measure of humanity by encouraging an actual person-to-person dialogue. That should not be viewed as threatening. Yes, it is true that spontaneous, unmoderated human interaction can have bad results, but similarly, meaningful conversations are also powerful enough to change your mind and touch hearts. Good luck with Twitter's 280 character limit.
Have journalists from places like Poynter and The New York Times thought about how to use their own platforms to bring people together, instead of running around eradicating misconceptions like a bunch of Orwellian truffle pigs? To foster real engagement in a deeply politicized and polarized country where we could all make more effort to see the humanity of those we disagree with?
Ultimately, it is easier to reach consensus on truthful and unifying messages than it is to knock down any marginal vote that may be wrong. The standard message that uncontrolled conversations between reasonable people threatens only those who actually spread harmful ideas to dark, coded corners of the Internet.
It's best to remain skeptical of social media and all of its forms, but what's happening now in the still-developing clubhouse sets a low bar by being more promising than other social media platforms. Elon Musk recently asked Vladimir Putin to have a chat with him about Clubhouse, and the Kremlin says this request is pendingThere is always a chance that such a conversation will end badly, but if you are concerned about social media hostilities, it is more likely that World War III will start on Twitter and be planned on Facebook.
. (tagsToTranslate) GritDaily (t) New York Times (t) PolitiFact (t) censorship (t) elon musk (t) Clubhouse (t) social media (t) computers (t) Politics