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Clubhouse Aimed to Foster Diversity. Is it Working?

Here’s what you need to know before joining the social audio platform, especially if you’re a person of color.

It’s not that hard to get an invite to Clubhouse anymore.

More than a year after its initial release in March 2020, the invite-only social media app is still technically in beta mode, but after a few appearances from the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, everyone wanted in—and most of them got in. The audio-only platform that was almost built for a global pandemic has exploded to host about 10 million users in nine countries and the European Union on both iOS and Android.

Conversations occur in real time about everything from international politics to watch parties, and you can dip in and out of rooms without saying a word or be invited “on stage” to be heard by 5, 50, 500, or 5,000 people (the current maximum—although Musk has blown past that before). It’s basically a virtual conference, about anything and everything, sold to users with a premium on real-time conversation. But now that Clubhouse’s users are beginning to step out of quarantine isolation and take their conversations offline, the app is being kicked out of the nest to see whether it can fly.

‘Intimacy at Scale’

Like Zuckerberg, Paul Davison and Rohan Seth of Alpha Exploration started their social experiment small, intending to “collect feedback, quietly iterate, and avoid making noise until we felt the product was ready for everyone.” But as the buzz caught on in Silicon Valley, they soon learned that wouldn’t be possible.

“I think part of the appeal of Clubhouse is the scarcity of conversations that are only going to happen live and that you won’t be able to catch anywhere else,” said Jordan Harrod, a user who joined in November 2020 after hearing about the app on Twitter. But after a while, she said, “I think the scarcity idea kind of wears off after you are in too many rooms and not necessarily hearing particularly novel information.”

Since conversations aren’t recorded, fact-checking is difficult, and users aren’t always held accountable for what they say. Sound familiar?

“I’ve been in many a room where I’ve hopped on and fairly quickly realized that the people who called themselves experts on some topic had absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. But everyone in the audience was taking it as fact,” Harrod said.

At the same time, some users say the medium allows for more nuance and critical thinking than other social media platforms, where users can scan over an image or a post in seconds and like or share immediately. Without visual cues like videos, comments or even the infamous blue checkmark, says Abraxas Higgins, a self-described impact influencer and social audio strategist, the app truly is audio-only, and he likes it that way. And while some have compared the app’s content to podcasts, broadcasting live (as radio hosts will tell you) is not the same thing as recording content with the knowledge that you can edit it later.

“Thousands of people are listening to you, and it’s just your voice—there is no image—and you’re having to think of things on the fly and be witty and funny and have lexical prowess,” he said. “If you’re lying, you get caught out pretty quickly. If you’re an idiot, you get caught out pretty quickly. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you get caught out pretty quickly.”

So while a large following might bring an audience into your room, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay—especially when time is a premium in modern life. And you have to spend time engaging with users on the app, a lot more than you do to scroll through Facebook or Twitter and like someone’s content.

“The power of this app is intimacy at scale,” said Higgins, who said he has friends in cities all over the world today from the platform.

That’s not to say the app is free of disinformation or disingenuous people. Anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and Covid-19 deniers have formed their own communities on the app, making unproven claims in their bios and conversations. And while some rooms hold space for conversations between Israelis and Palestinians during the ongoing crisis, the app has also struggled to shut down anti-Semitism and other forms of racism. In April the app shut down a number of rooms and removed users who violated the community guidelines, which ban discrimination, hateful content, or threats of violence or harm against “any person or groups of people.” The growing pains are unavoidable, but how the company handles them moving forward could make or break its future in the social media sphere.

The Evolution of Clubhouse

It wasn’t always this way, and chances are it won’t remain the same either. The app has gone through several evolutions, or cycles, as more and more people were invited on. Each user gets two invites when they join, but Clubhouse gives you more seemingly indiscriminately—which makes any perceived exclusivity short-lived. When it first opened up in July 2020, after three months of development and testing with a few friends, the company stated its intention to “foster a diverse set of voices”—and to a certain extent it managed to do so.

“It’s an app that was created for people in Silicon Valley, and there’s already a hierarchy in Silicon Valley, so that’s sort of how the app became popular. It also gained popularity because of the exclusivity: You wanted to be a part of something that everyone else wanted to be a part of, but only certain people were allowed to be a part of,” said Beth, an early user who did not want her real name shared due to her connections within the tech industry.

That hierarchy involves race, gender, and class dynamics. White men have long dominated the tech industry and white workers make up two-thirds of the workplace, followed by Asian Americans, who make up just under one-quarter of computing and mathematical occupations and are more likely to be found in technical positions than leadership positions. Black and Latinx workers each make up less than 10 percent of the industry and even less of the executive positions.

But a lot changed when the entertainment industry got on the platform last September, including a wave of Black creatives, ushering in a new era for the app.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to use this platform the way that maybe some people would,’ in the sense that there’s an opportunity here to use this outside of just speaking,” said Noelle Chesnut Whitmore, the chief marketing officer at Geojam and founder of More in Music.

Within a few months, Whitmore pulled together the now-viral and critically acclaimed performance of The Lion King: The Musical as the executive producer and director. When she joined the app, like other Black users, Whitmore invited her community into the wave of users of color joining the app, from cities like Los Angeles, New York City, and Atlanta.

“My Clubhouse experience has always been inclusive of very, very diverse groups, like extremely diverse groups, so much so that it was ironic, because some of these people I would never have talked to just based off of location, based off of some of the sectors in which they worked. The beautiful thing about Clubhouse is it put all of us in one space and forced us to talk to each other,” said Whitmore.

Higgins, who is based in London, joined this wave in October last year, calling it a “music renaissance,” and said the user base—at least to him—was much more Black at the time than it is today, diversifying from the mostly white tech base of its early days. Now the app is taking off in India, having spread to the UK and other parts of Europe as well as Africa, Australia, and South America.

“Each of those cities had some kind of cultural impact on the kinds of rooms we would see,” said creator Minh Do, who hosts clubs like Crazy Good Fun and the Movie Club, which often have more than 500 users in the room. One example he gave was the green moderator signifier, which Atlanta users began calling the “green beam”—and it stuck.

“In the very beginning, it was fairly tech-heavy, but I also came in after George Floyd, and my impression of what happened then is that there was a push for diversity from the user base at that time, and I think that has continued ever since,” he added. “I don’t think that Clubhouse has a strong amount of control over the demographic changes on the app, because it’s kind of in the hands of the users to invite who comes on.”

Clubhouse doesn’t collect demographic information from users when they create an account, so there’s no way to know quantitatively how diverse the platform is. A spokesperson for the company pointed to several top creators of color, some of whom are based in other countries, with audiences of more than 1,000 users.

Other social media platforms with an international base are similarly diverse, and users can turn Clubhouse into an echo chamber of sorts, but the app’s algorithm—while somewhat a mystery—heavily relies on user-selected “interests” to populate your hallway, making it more likely that you’ll find users outside of your bubble. With only a single profile image and a username to identify users, the app also sidesteps some of the racial bias built into artificial intelligence that has gotten apps like Twitter in trouble before. Still, while there are plenty of examples of what not to do, the question remains: Does the company know what to do next?

What Does Growth Look Like?

In recent months, Clubhouse has started to cater more to creators, rolling out a “Creator First” initiative to support selected creators by providing resources, services, and a stipend. The app also added a payment feature using Stripe that allows users to monetize their audience—with 100 percent of the money going directly to the user, unlike other platforms, which take a cut of the money.

Features like these are encouraging, especially for creatives of color, who are often cut out of the profits made online. Beyond the user base, however, part of the inclusivity equation as the app grows is biased by the people behind the technology. One of the app’s two male cofounders, Seth, is a person of color, while the other, Davison, is white.

“There’s definitely an air of strong male energy. The more popular rooms tend to be the rooms where it’s mostly white, male tech speakers,” said Beth, noting that other voices were present as well—if you went looking. “When two men start an app with roots in Silicon Valley, with this agenda of being inclusive, it’s a different air than when a woman starts an app to ensure that women feel safe in that community. With Clubhouse, perhaps the exclusivity was once a marketing tactic, but at a certain point it can become their Achilles’ heel.”

The small company of roughly a dozen employees is hiring, however, and would double in size if it filled all currently open positions. If they follow through on opening the platform, as the website says they intend to do, they’re likely to need the help.

“The beautiful thing they have on their side is that there is some sense of culture that they had early on. I think the hard part, though, is how do you establish and communicate and share that culture as it scaled,” said Whitmore. “People are just getting dumped onto Clubhouse and are unfortunately bringing some of those norms from other platforms without realizing that there is a unique opportunity for us here to develop a new standard, a new culture, and new ways in which we use this platform.”


More Great WIRED Stories

Author: Anagha Srikanth
Read more here >>> Business Latest

Need an Angel Investor? Just Open Up Clubhouse

Author Arielle Pardes
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

Startup fundraising can be bloodsport, which also makes it great entertainment. Shark Tank first brought pitch decks to prime time in 2009, spawning an entire genre of investment-as-reality-TV. To name just a few: Meet the Drapers (hosted by venture capitalist Tim Draper), Cleveland Hustles (hosted by basketball legend LeBron James), Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch (exactly what it sounds like), The Profit (weirdly, for investing in failing businesses), Dragon’s Den (like Shark Tank, but British), and Tigers of Money (like Shark Tank, but Japanese).

The latest entree on this theme is not on television but on Clubhouse. Every Wednesday at 3 pm Pacific time, a new handful of founders duke it out before a panel of angel investors in a weekly show called Angelhouse. Hundreds more people listen in. The conversations between founders and investors can be educational, but “the purpose of hearing pitches is not to give advice,” says Geoff Cook, one of the angels. “It’s to decide: Do you want to invest or not?”

From the start, Clubhouse has had a vibrant startup scene, and many of the app’s top users are venture capitalists. It’s not uncommon to stumble into a room full of entrepreneurs practicing their pitches, or investors discussing the latest startup trends. Cook, who founded his first startup as a freshman at Harvard in 1997, has sold several companies and now dabbles in angel investing. After spending some time on Clubhouse earlier this year, he realized it might be a good place to find some new deal flow. He asked a few other angels he knew if they wanted in, and in January, Angelhouse began.

Every week, Angelhouse invites four founders up to the stage. Most of the participants have submitted an application form ahead of time, but the show will occasionally pluck a volunteer from the audience to pitch on the spot. There are no slide decks or B-roll footage on Clubhouse. Instead, it’s an hourlong exchange between founders and the investors probing their ideas, including the sometimes boring particulars: technical specs, cash flows, distribution models. Afterward, the angels—who are scattered around the world—retreat to a private backchannel on Slack, where they chat about which, if any, pitches are viable investments. They invite their favorites back every fifth week for the Money Show, where they decide which they want to invest in. No one “wins” Angelhouse’s Money Show; sometimes, no one gets picked. There is only one gimmick: If one angel writes a check, they all write a check.

For founders, the process can be surprisingly efficient. Without the right network to make introductions, getting the attention of an angel investor can be about as easy as finding a fairy godmother; on Clubhouse, there are rooms full of them, and Angelhouse offers a straightforward way to snag a meeting. For angels, it can also help build new connections that lead to new deals. “In my previous angel investing, it was always someone I knew through someone, or someone I knew directly,” says Cook. Now his network is as big as Clubhouse’s user base.

On Angelhouse, each angel invests a minimum of $ 10,000 and a maximum of $ 50,000. That’s smaller than the average angel check, but because the group invests together, it takes some of the pressure off the individual angels without shorting the founder. So far, the investors have blessed two startups from the show: Alpha’a, a blockchain marketplace for art, and Stack Influence, a platform that connects micro-influencers to brands. Manuela Seve, the founder of Alpha’a, simply showed up in the Angelhouse audience and raised her hand to pitch. The angels liked what they heard, brought her back for the Money Show, and decided to invest. “The next day, I did another pitch in another room [on Clubhouse], and it led to another investor that we’re now talking to that might lead the round,” says Seve. “I told my team, ‘I just raised $ 50k in a two-minute pitch!’”

Facebook Announces Live Audio Rooms, Its Clubhouse Clone

On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the company’s plan to enter the social audio space. “We think that audio is also going to be a first-class medium,” Zuckerberg told journalist Casey Newton in a conversation broadcast on Discord. “Every once in a while a new medium comes along that can be adopted into a lot of different areas,” Zuckerberg said. “I think that’s going to be true with these live audio rooms.”

For the 600 people listening in, the irony was thick. Live audio is not exactly a “new medium.” The very platform where Newton was interviewing Facebook’s CEO has offered live audio for five years, and is reportedly worth $ 10 billion. Clubhouse, now a year old, was recently valued at $ 4 billion. That startup’s speedy rise was duly noted by more established platforms, who have launched or announced their own live audio features in recent months: Twitter Audio Spaces, Reddit Talk, even LinkedIn is working on one.

Facebook’s take on the idea is hardly fresh, but lack of originality has never stopped the company before. Soon, it will debut its Clubhouse competitor, called Live Audio Rooms, where people can chat in real time. The company is initially testing the feature in Facebook Groups and with public figures, but it said in a blog post on Monday that it expects the rooms “to be available to everyone on the Facebook app by the summer.” It plans to roll out live audio rooms for its Messenger app this summer too.

Facebook is testing Live Audio Rooms and plans to offer creators multiple ways to earn money on the platform.
Courtesy of Facebook

Facebook is also introducing a few other audio products. One is Soundbites, which Zuckerberg described as “snackable” audio content—a place for jokes, poems, pithy insights, or anecdotes, that go into an algorithmic feed. (Twitter introduced a similar feature last year; unsurprisingly, “tweeting with your voice” has not yet taken off.) Another is Boombox, a collaboration with Spotify for sharing music. Facebook will also add a space to play and discover podcasts directly from its main app.

The social audio category is already very crowded, but Facebook arrives with some competitive advantages. The company already has more than 2 billion users, providing a built-in listener base. Its hugely successful advertising business means it has plenty of financial and human resources to throw at this latest initiative, should its executives choose. Clubhouse, meanwhile, doesn’t even have an Android app yet. And yet, Facebook’s size does not alone guarantee it will win the day. Conquering by copying has long been part of Facebook’s playbook, and the strategy can sometimes pay off. When Facebook’s Instagram stole the Stories format from Snapchat, users loved it; the reception of Reels, its TikTok ripoff, has been more mixed.

Arielle Pardes

This article originally appeared on Business Latest

Can the Gleam of High-End Watches Thrive on Audio-Only Clubhouse?

It has been called the perfect social media platform for a pandemic, and also a lockdown fad.

Clubhouse, the invitation-only social audio app valued at $ 1 billion[1], counts Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey and Drake as members. Brands in beauty, fashion, tech, travel and luxury have been experimenting with the buzzy platform, and now it is catching the attention of the luxury watch industry.

But as that community begins to speak its mind, there are questions about Clubhouse’s relevance to the physical, visual world of luxury watchmaking and, more broadly, the app’s overall chances for success.

For now, Clubhouse offers only audio chat, with no content sharing. It is only available on Apple’s iPhone, and while you can download the free app, you can only use it if you are invited by a member.

And there is the likelihood it will soon be in competition with rival products from social media giants. Twitter is set to roll out Spaces this month, while Instagram has already responded with Live Rooms, which includes live video, but is limited to four speakers at any one time. Facebook is said to be developing its own platform, too[2].

Yet some watch brands say Clubhouse has the power to amplify their businesses.

“Clubhouse made a ton of sense to me,” said Christophe Grainger-Herr, IWC’s chief executive, who has taken part in the brand’s weekly Clubhouse session, called “The Things That Make Us Tick,” since they began in late January.

“It’s talk radio but with the open room format, like Instagram Live, but with full interactivity,” he said. “That seemed attractive because you can connect to an audience worldwide, one-to-one. You have a directness and immediacy.”

In April 2020, Clubhouse was introduced in Apple’s App Store by an entrepreneur, Paul Davison, and a former Google engineer, Rohan Seth. The men had incorporated their California-based start-up, Alpha Exploration Co., only two months earlier.

The “interactive podcast” concept, as Clubhouse been described, offers live, unrecorded chat in a virtual room. There are speakers, but moderators can invite audience members to take part. And audience members can leave the session whenever they like.

By the end of the year, Clubhouse’s membership had grown, but not as fast as its reputation. In December, British Vogue published an article[3] describing it as “the new FOMO-inducing social app.” And then in January, it was reported that Andreessen Horowitz, the blue-chip venture capital firm that had been an initial investor, had put $ 100 million into Clubhouse, producing that $ 1 billion valuation.

The platform, however, continues to be a niche site. Reports say[4] the app has been downloaded almost 13 million times. Yet even if all those people managed to get invitations and became users, the audience still would be tiny compared to Facebook, the world’s largest social network, which ended 2020 with a reported 2.8 billion monthly active users[5].

It also hasn’t made any money, as usage by both brands and audience members is free — at least for the moment.

With watch-focused chat rooms only gathering audiences in double, sometimes triple figures, some are questioning why the likes of IWC are bothering. “There is way too much hype around Clubhouse,” said David Sadigh, the chief executive of Digital Luxury Group, a specialist marketing agency. “It’s a great place if you have a topic you own and can offer a deep dive into that topic. But it’s not relevant for all brands at the moment.”

Still, Mr. Grainger-Herr said he already had completed many of the appointments he normally would have conducted during Watches and Wonders Geneva, which starts on Wednesday, so he can contribute to IWC’s Clubhouse sessions during the event. He said they would be running “24/7.”

Brands on the platform said their use was more about exploring new forms of social media than it was about reach. “One key part of our brand position is inclusive luxury, to be open in our approach,” said Tim Sayler, chief marketing officer for Breitling. Last month the brand, which also has gone into gaming recently, started scheduling what it calls #Squadtalks on Thursdays, with speakers who discuss everything from aviation to blockchain.

“On Clubhouse, everybody can raise their hands and participate,” Mr. Sayler said.

Dan Noël, founder of the Swiss digital marketing agency Starterland, said Clubhouse had the potential to bring luxury brands and their consumers together. “Even people with money are looking for brands that represent something from a social point of view, that contribute,” he said. “There’s a shift. Customers want direct, authentic connections with brands. Clubhouse offers bidirectional communication.”

The low cost of social audio also makes it attractive, businesses said.

Julien Tornare, the chief executive at Zenith, one of the LVMH Group of watch companies, said his brand was using Clubhouse because it was “logistically much easier” than generating expensive video content for channels such as YouTube and Instagram. Mr. Tornare and his colleagues appear as themselves rather than the brand, to reflect the more “personal” nature of the platform.

He also said he was far from convinced that Clubhouse would last, but that it was worth the effort. “We have to be there,” he said. “Right now, it’s the one.”

The Clubhouse format does present challenges for luxury houses, just as the internet did[6] for years after its acceptance by most businesses.

“The problem for luxury brands is that they are obsessed by look and feel,” Mr. Noël said. “Brands have to find a way of creating emotion with their words, which could be frightening for them. And it’s live, so a bad word could be really damaging.” (Shortly after Clubhouse’s debut, there were complaints[7] that hate speech and harassment were proliferating. The app has since added blocking and reporting features.)

Mr. Tornare said he wasn’t worried about risks. “There are some C.E.O.s trying to avoid being exposed to the press or with a direct audience,” he said. “But I believe if you want to communicate you have to take some risk at some point and be exposed. It’s part of the job. We have to be open to criticism.”

By and large, users of watch-related rooms reported courteous audience exchanges. “All the watch rooms I’ve been in have been civilized and respectful,” Andrew Carrier, a London-based watch enthusiast, wrote in an email.

Mr. Sayler of Breitling agreed. “On Clubhouse, I only see constructive, polite, civilized conversation. Maybe that’s because of the by invitation only.”

Mr. Carrier said the informal nature of the platform appealed, too. “The audio-only and spontaneous nature of the experience means that brands have to drop the pretense and stuffiness that sometimes comes with more traditional marketing activities,” he wrote. “There’s no hierarchy in Clubhouse; we’re all just people with a slightly odd obsession with watches.”

Suzanne Wong, editor in chief of the watch website WorldTempus and co-founder of the weekly Clubhouse room WatchFemme[8], which aims to highlight women in the watch world, said she had similar experiences. “You can’t fake your profile and you’re encouraged to connect your other accounts,” she said, referring to social media platforms. “When you make a comment in bad faith, you’re doing it in front of an audience who can see who you are. It limits trolls in that way.

“It’s like a town hall because when you come up to the microphone people see who you are,” she added. “So you get a qualitative audience in that way. People aren’t logging in anonymously to troll. Instead, you get people who are genuinely interested.”

With Clubhouse yet to offer any insights into user behavior, watch brands and analysts said it was too early and audiences were too small to measure the effectiveness of Clubhouse as a marketing tool. And there were few signs that sessions were drawing in new watch buyers.

“I felt like I knew 60 to 70 percent of the audience,” Mr. Tornare said of a Clubhouse session that Zenith had hosted to mark a recent collaboration with the artist Felipe Pantone. “It’s a way to exchange on a subject you like, rather than to learn about watches.”

Mr. Noël of Starterland said the small, intimate nature of Clubhouse could work to both the platform and users’ advantage. “It doesn’t mean that if you only have a few followers that you cannot have influence,” he said. “That’s one of the benefits of Clubhouse. You don’t need a big platform to show your values. Go into the rooms and create a club, not to sell your stuff, but to deliver your values to the audience.”

But will Clubhouse — and social audio in general — survive when people return to the office and are enjoying life beyond their living rooms?

“My perception is that Clubhouse is trying to build a content platform and a platform for creators,” said Mr. Sadigh of DLG, referencing Clubhouse’s March announcement of a new accelerator program to help content creators build and monetize their audiences. “At some point, people will pay to be part of groups and exclusive conversations. And that goes way beyond Covid times.”

Mr. Noël said he believed social audio has something going for it. “Audio is probably the most frictionless way to communicate between humans, and the less friction you have in your communication, the more traction you will get,” he said. “Clubhouse is a direct connection between humans, emulating real life. And we know that when a social network emulates something in the real world, it’s a good sign it’s not a fad.”

But he sounded a warning. “If Clubhouse wants to exist 10 years from now, it will have to find a way to keep the traction and get some money from the model. And they will have to deliver metrics to brands and content creators.”

Others disagree. “So far, it’s an early-adopter platform,” Mr. Sadigh said. “The buzz is not reflected in the numbers. There are plenty of people joining, but how many are active? One percent are addicted, two percent use it a few times a week, but 97 percent are sleeping. Instagram and Facebook managed to change people’s habits so that even people who are not early adopters are checking their phone 20 times a day. We are far from this on Clubhouse.”

James Marks of Phillips Perpetual, the London pre-owned watch showroom, and a frequent Clubhouse user, went further.

“It’s just social boredom,” he said.

References

  1. ^ at $ 1 billion (fortune.com)
  2. ^ Facebook is said to be developing its own platform, too (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ an article (www.vogue.co.uk)
  4. ^ Reports say (www.socialmediatoday.com)
  5. ^ a reported 2.8 billion monthly active users (investor.fb.com)
  6. ^ just as the internet did (www.nytimes.com)
  7. ^ there were complaints (www.nytimes.com)
  8. ^ WatchFemme (www.nytimes.com)

Robin Swithinbank

Android warning: Downloading this fake Clubhouse app comes with a nasty surprise

Android users need to stay on alert and not download a bogus, official-looking app that could seriously cost them. Security experts are warning that a fake version of the hot new app on the block – Clubhouse – is being circulated. Clubhouse is a VIP messenger app that celebrities such as Elon Musk, Oprah and Kanye West have helped surge in popularity and demand.
While Clubhouse has been in the public eye a lot, getting access to it is not easy – with new users needing an invite. And the exclusive nature of the app is something scammers are trying to capitalise on.

As outlined in a study by ESET, a fake version of the yet-to-be released Android version of Clubhouse is being spread via an official looking website.

The website, which looks very similar to the official Clubhouse page, features a ‘Get it on Google Play button’.

However, instead of directing people to the official Android app marketplace anyone that clicks on this button will instead get a fake app loaded with the BlackRock trojan downloaded onto their device.

This is an especially nasty piece of malware that can steal victims’ login details for 458 services. Popular apps targeted by BlackRock include Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Outlook and eBay. While financial apps including Coinbase, Cash App along with apps for major banks such as BBVA and Lloyds Bank have also been targeted.

READ MORE: Has Android 11 FINALLY fixed the biggest problem with Google’s OS?

The dangerous malware threat was discovered by ESET malware researcher Lukas Stefanko.

Speaking about the threat, Stefanko said: “The website looks like the real deal. To be frank, it is a well-executed copy of the legitimate Clubhouse website. However, once the user clicks on ‘Get it on Google Play’, the app will be automatically downloaded onto the user’s device. By contrast, legitimate websites would always redirect the user to Google Play, rather than directly download an Android Package Kit, or APK for short.”

There are a number of red flags that the alleged Clubhouse Android app website is a fake one.

The clearest sign that this is all part of a scam is the fake app users end up downloading. Instead of it being called Clubhouse it is labelled ‘install’.

Stefanko said: “While this demonstrates that the malware creator was probably too lazy to disguise the downloaded app properly, it could also mean that we may discover even more sophisticated copycats in the future”.

Another sign the website that offers the alleged Clubhouse Android app is bogus is that it does not use the secure HTTPS protocol which all major websites adopt.

Tom Lysemose Hansen, CTO at Norwegian app security company Promon, added: “Smartphone users (and Android users in particular) should be on the lookout for common tell-tale signs that indicate a website is not legitimate. These can include not being secure (if the webpage starts with HTTP instead of HTTPS) or if the domain looks strange (in this case it was .mobi instead of .com used by the legitimate website).”

Advising people on how to stay safe from such threats, ESET recommended a number of top security tips…

• Use only the official stores to download apps to your devices.

• Be wary of what kinds of permissions you grant to applications.

• Keep your device up to date, ideally by setting it to patch and update automatically.

• If possible, use software-based or hardware token one-time password (OTP) generators instead of SMS.

• Before downloading an app, do some research on the developer and the app’s ratings and user reviews.

• Use a reputable mobile security solution.