Clubhouse – The App of Elites?
What might Elon Musk have to say to Vladimir Putin? If this seems like an odd pair, this conversation might actually become reality. To listen to it, you have to be ‘part of the club’. But before delving into the matter, let’s start with a crash course in the newest social network: Clubhouse.
It is like listening to a radio, podcast, conference call and chatting with friends at the same time. That is a possible definition of the new social networking app Clubhouse. Unlike other social media, Clubhouse is not based on pictures (like Instagram) or text (like Twitter), but solely on audio. People can create virtual rooms in which a number of people discuss a selected topic, while others listen and ask questions. All of this happens live as the audio-chats are not being recorded. Moreover, another essential difference between Clubhouse and other social networks – only invited people can actually ‘join the club’. That means that you cannot simply download the app and start audio-chatting with people, you need to wait for someone to invite you.
Simply put, the conversations happening on this app are not freely available to the public. Rather, for now, this app should be considered as the social network of the elite; a platform for the chats of highly influential and powerful celebrities, politicians and leaders. Take the case of Elon Musk inviting Vladimir Putin to audio-chat on Clubhouse according to the CNN article published in February 2021. Musk, the CEO of Tesla, tagged the official Twitter account of the Kremlin, asking if Russian president Vladimir Putin wanted to join him in the virtual room on Clubhouse to chat.
This raises questions about the nature of Clubhouse: is it simply a new social platform or a new tool for the influential elites? In any case this seems another example of how online media platforms and politics mingle.
If you wish to learn more about the influence of media on our contemporary political landscape, check out the IMPAKT web project Radicalization by Design. Here you can find many more themes related to the use of online platforms and how these impact politics today, including the power of trolls, conspiracy theories, memes and fringe platforms.