What Is Clubhouse? Here's Everything You Need to Know About the New, Invite-Only App

I'm more active on social media than I'd like, so I thought I knew all the main apps that people are using — until my friend texted me an invitation to join Clubhouse. Clubhouse is an app that was created in April 2020, and it provides a space for drop-in audio conversations where you can chat about certain topics or listen to others do so internationally. Basically, it's a podcast or conference call you can either listen to or actively join for fun. And as it turns out, this app is so popular that it's currently invite-only, meaning if you'd like to use it, you can't just download it and sign up as easily as you could for other social media sites. You do have the option of joining a waiting list if you don't have an invitation, but the wait time is unclear. Additionally, the app is currently only available for iPhone users. (Sorry, Android fans!)

Once you download the app using a friend's link, here's how it works: you'll first create an account with a username, then you'll select topics you're interested in and people you'd like to connect with. Many topics are available, including wellness, world affairs, entertainment, sports,identity, faith, and more. As far as following people, you can follow those you know from social media or your address book, as well as people who are interested in similar topics. If you'd like to receive a notification when someone's hosting a discussion on one of your topics, you can set that up in your phone's settings. All you need to do is go to the "Settings" app, click "Notifications," click "Clubhouse," and turn on "Allow Notifications." If you'd like to invite a friend as well, you can invite one person.

Users lead these topic discussions in "rooms," which are basically just separate spaces on the app. Several celebrities have joined or led them so far, including Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk. Discussions currently being held are listed down the app's home page, underneath people you can follow and discussions scheduled for the future. Once you join one of these "rooms," here's what to expect: you'll be muted and you can stay muted if you'd like. If you want to join the conversation, you can unmute yourself and click the hand emoticon at the bottom. You're also free to leave the "room" whenever you choose by clicking "Leave quietly." And, if you'd like to start a room, click the green "Start a Room" button at the bottom of the app's home screen.

While Clubhouse is a popular app with an average rating of 4.9 stars, it has had problems. The major issue is that it's become a space for people to harass and discriminate against people in marginalized communities, like Black women and Jewish people. People have reported seeing rooms in which only certain people are allowed to speak regardless of their level of expertise on the topic being discussed. While Clubhouse does have moderators, the moderation on the app is inadequate, at least at this time.

If you're curious about the app or want to use it, you have to score an invite from a friend that already belongs, as there's currently no information of it becoming open to everyone.