New audio app Clubhouse 'has significant problems with moderation'

 Feb. 9, 2021 file photo, the icon for the social media app Clubhouse is seen on a smartphone screen in Beijing.
Feb. 9, 2021 file photo, the icon for the social media app Clubhouse is seen on a smartphone screen in Beijing.   -  Copyright  Mark Schiefelbein/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Hebe Campbell

The audio-based social network solely relies on users reporting harmful content, rather than proactively moderating content.

Clubhouse, a new audio-only social app, lacks moderation and has become home to forms of hate speech, the Anti Defamation League (ADL) has claimed.

The app is invitation-only and lets you start or listen to conversations on a host of topics.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, there are no posts, photos, or videos — only people’s profile pictures and their voices.

"All of a sudden something becomes very successful," said Daniel Kelley, ADL's associate director, referring to the app's quick rise to prominence. "Safety and respect for people across communities were not centred in the creation of the app."

Kelley added ADL had found a number of extremists and Holocaust deniers on the app. Clubhouse.

"There were very prominent issues of antisemitism that appeared on the platform," he said.

The Cube, Euronews' social media newsdesk, has also come across COVID-19 misinformation and antisemitic content within Clubhouse groups.

Audio content is harder to moderate than generic social media, where moderation is often done through algorithms and picking up on words and hashtags.

But with audio-based social media, Clubhouse relies on users reporting dangerous content, rather than proactive moderation you might see on other social media. 

Kelley told The Cube: "The problems with audio content moderation are significant.

"If for instance you are busy being targeted by hate and harassment during a Clubhouse event and you don't think to report during that... there is no avenue for people who are targeted to seek recourse," Kelley said.

The Cube contacted Clubhouse for a response to these comments on moderation but did not receive a reply. 

On its website, Clubhouse states it will have "a wave of new enhancements to make in-room reporting more real-time, specific and robust". 

"I think there is a desire to do better, but we are seeing some of the same harmful [content] that we have seen with other social network platforms," Kelley added.

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