Why doesn’t Clubhouse let you record conversations?

Clubhouse is probably the hottest social media phenomenon right now, and you could attribute its popularity to a number of factors. Among which include having meaningful conversation and direct interaction with the more prominent members of society, as well as a platform to have meaningful discussions.

And we’ve already seen that happen in Malaysia itself with Khairy Jamaluddin’s recent panel discussion about the COVID-19 vaccine. The potential here is incredible, and it could serve as a great socially distanced alternative to the otherwise hyperorganised panel discussions of the past. But, despite having this incredible potential, there is one rather peculiar rule in Clubhouse’s Community Guidelines that prohibits the recording and transcription of information obtained on the app.

OK, to be more precise, Clubhouse prohibits the recording, transcribing or otherwise reproducing, manipulating and/or sharing of information without the express authorisation or permission of Clubhouse and all users that originated the content.

We prohibit the transcribing, recording, or otherwise reproducing, manipulating, and / or sharing of information (e.g., audio or screen recording) obtained in Clubhouse, without the express authorization / permission of Clubhouse and all users that originated this content.

–Clubhouse Community Guidelines

From my understanding, that means that whatever room you join or listen in on, you’re not allowed to record or transcribe any of the conversations or information that is being shared in that room. Now, I guess if you treat the conversations between the speakers in a publicly created room to be private conversations (or a phone call) among those specific people only, then a rule like this would make sense.

But, the important thing to remember here is that Clubhouse conversations aren’t private. Unless specifically set up to be private, the rooms that have been created are all public spaces that anyone with a Clubhouse account can join. In that sense, they have more in common with public panel discussions or even press conferences you’d find in conventions or something similar, rather than private one-on-one conversations. And in settings like those, it’s not uncommon for attendees to record or take note (and even subsequently upload) what’s being shared.

SEE ALSO:  Clubhouse will no longer be an invite-only platform

You could, of course, try to argue that because the app is an invite-only app, it is more “private” than something like Facebook or Twitter. But, if we’re talking about a user base of millions that runs off a simple unmoderated invite system, I don’t think that argument really holds up. On the other hand, if the concern was IP (intellectual property) or copyright for any content produced on the app, why then would the recorder need the permission of Clubhouse? Wouldn’t the permission of the content creators (or speakers) be sufficient? After all, Clubhouse states that “all original content that a user shares in Clubhouse is owned by that user alone.”

On top of that, concerns have been raised by experts regarding Clubhouse’s privacy policy, especially surrounding the issue that the app reportedly stores the recordings of all conversations held in the various rooms of the app to “track abuses”. Alongside unclear processes and the inability to confirm whether the recordings are actually deleted after the room ends raises more than a few eyebrows to the data and privacy practices of this new application.

That being said, I do understand why a rule like this would be important for an app like Clubhouse. Knowing that your conversations won’t be recorded is often a good catalyst to encourage frank discussions. And it is these honest, unfiltered conversations that are often most meaningful for the platform. It’s that perceived sense of privacy, I guess, because it makes it feel more like you’re talking with a group of friends, and not giving a press conference.

SEE ALSO:  Clubhouse will no longer be an invite-only platform

But, with an app that has the potential that Clubhouse has, I feel like being able to record and report on the conversations that take place there is an important step in the growth of the platform. The same way politicians ands brands use Facebook and Twitter to communicate with their community, and/or make statements, Clubhouse should also be able to foster such conversations.

As the platform grows, I also think Clubhouse needs to look at proper verification and vetting. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram utilise check marks to let you know that the person you’re talking to is legitimate, and they also have systems in place to make sure important discussions on topics like COVID-19 (for example) are properly labeled. This should go a long way in facilitating meaningful discussions about important topics rather than be a tool for the dissemination of misinformation.

Of course, Clubhouse is still in its beta stages of development, but for it to mature, the app will need to do a lot more growing and be a lot more transparent in the future.

What do you guys think of Clubhouse? Let me know in the comments below.