From being the underdog of social media platforms to one of the most sought after audio mediums — Clubhouse has come a long way. Now, however, with deteriorating content and slowing down of downloads — it seems to have made its way out of the game
“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” The quote from a famous movie stands true on many levels and has the potential for some rather interesting turn of events for many social media companies. Today, Clubhouse — the darling of audio only social media platforms — serves as a living testament to this.
Since April, 2020, when Clubhouse was first launched, it had been spreading like wildfire. Now, however, the fire seems to have slowed down and the reasons behind this may not be that difficult to figure out.
When first launched, Clubhouse enjoyed immediate success and clocked in a whopping 5.2 million downloads by the month of June 2021 in India. In April, Clubhouse saw about 922,000 downloads globally, a 66% dip from 2.7 million installs in March and a surge of 9.6 million in February, according to a report from Sensor Tower. Those were its heyday, and at present the number of downloads of the once much sought after platform are slowing down enough for the Silicon Valley and users to take note of. This slowdown has come despite the platform letting go off its invite only policy and rumours of additional features being added to it.
Especially in the Indian market, a key growth area for Clubhouse, where around 85% of smartphone users are using Android OS, the platform’s popularity seems to be diminishing at a rapid pace. Part of this slowdown can be blamed on the competition catching up, with Twitter introducing Spaces and Facebook set to launch its own audio only platform. While another reason behind the slowdown seems to be due to the shift of users from creator generated content to chat rooms, not all of which appear to revolve around the intended use of the platform by its founder Paul Davison.
If users were to open Clubhouse right now on their respective iOS and Android OS devices , they will come across a slew of chat rooms with sexual innuendos and promises of sex chat on the platform. This comes after several incidents of hate speech and exclusion of voices from Clubhouse were talked about and reported in, a problem Clubhouse has received much criticism for, and have been unable to curb it.
On its part, the unwillingness of the platform to curb down on speech and sexual content has also been a boon for many users. From discussion around female sexuality to taboos surrounding masturbation, rooms hosting such discussions are providing much needed respite and a platform to varied voices bringing up such topics. Case in point is the use of the platform by Malayali women to talk about sexuality and taboos.
However, as is the case with everything, unfiltered and unrestricted freedom of speech comes with its own set of problems. Today the homepage of Clubhouse is a littered, if not full of, groups around sexual material and without any intervention from the platform could result in Clubhouse being reduced from a medium that revamped social media during the pandemic to a sex site.
A lot of users have also taken to other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to express their disgust over this. “Dear clubhouse members/founders, Thanks for the beautiful platform for so many wonderful things. BUT can you guys quickly come up with a policy/system in a place to stop this open porn/nudity in ch. CH became a pornhub now!” Twitter user Sandeep Choudhary tweeted.
How Clubhouse handles the decline in the number of installs and the deterioration of content, while ensuring it does not lose its niche of being the platform with unfettered freedom of speech will be interesting to see.