Connect with us


Clubhouse Finally Launches Android Version – But is it Already Too Late?



clubhouse finally launches android version but is it already too late

It’s taken some time – and no doubt some scrambling at Clubhouse HQ – but finally, an Android version of the audio social platform is now available, in limited beta for now, with a wider launch coming soon.

Clubhouse Android

As explained by Clubhouse:

“Today, we are thrilled to share that Clubhouse for Android will start rolling out in beta immediately. We will begin gradually, with the U.S. today, followed by other English-speaking countries and then the rest of the world. Our plan over the next few weeks is to collect feedback from the community, fix any issues we see and work to add a few final features like payments and club creation before rolling it out more broadly.”

Clubhouse’s Android app does have some significant limitation at launch, including the lack of options to follow topics, inability to create or manage clubs, and no capacity to update your name or update username in-app, among others. But it is finally here, which has been a long time coming, and is a critical step for the next stage of the app’s development.

Clubhouse’s lack of an Android app has become a significant growth impediment of late, with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all adding Clubhouse-like audio social options that could end up slowing the Clubhouse’s potential Android user take-up. If you can tune in to all the audio social rooms you want, in the apps that you’re already familiar with – which are available on your device right now – do you really need Clubhouse in your life?

The growing variety of audio social tools has now made this a real question, and while Clubhouse may have originated the audio social trend, these newer offerings are refining it, in various ways, which poses a major challenge for Clubhouse as it looks to capitalize on its early momentum, and maximize its audience growth.

Which is already slowing – according to data from Sensor Tower, Clubhouse’s total download numbers fell 72% in March, after peaking at 9.6 million in February.

You can see that same downward trend in the app’s daily download rankings

Clubhouse download rankings

As you can see, while Clubhouse is still seeing small boosts in download numbers, the downward trend here is clear.

This can largely be attributed to its lack of an Android app (though these, of course, are only iOS numbers), the rising competition within the audio social space, as noted, and Clubhouse’s invite-only approach, which is designed to both enhance the FOMO factor and fuel more interest in the app, while also alleviating stress on Clubhouse’s servers. 

Which will still be in place for the new Android version:   

“As a part of the effort to keep the growth measured, we will be continuing the waitlist and invite system, ensuring that each new community member can bring along a few close friends. As we head into the summer and continue to scale out the backend, we plan to begin opening up even further, welcoming millions more people in from the iOS waitlist, expanding language support, and adding more accessibility features, so that people worldwide can experience Clubhouse in a way that feels native to them.”

This was once one of Clubhouse’s key growth features, with its invite-only approach making Clubhouse invites a desired digital item, with many even being auctioned off on eBay for ridiculous prices. But with more audio social options arriving on the scene, it’s now become a limitation – though it does also serve a practical purpose, which Clubhouse further explains:  

“Earlier this year, Clubhouse started growing very quickly, as people all over the world began inviting their friends faster than we had ever expected. This had its downsides, as the load stressed our systems- causing widespread server outages and notification failures, and surpassing the limits of our early discovery algorithms. It made us shift our focus to hiring, fixing, and company building, rather than the community meetups and product features that we normally like to focus on. It was an important time of investment, which we think will help us serve the community much better in the long run.”

This is a problem that its competitors don’t have, because most have already built the infrastructure to host multi-participant video streams, meaning that, if anything, downgrading their video tools to audio only is a step back from a data load perspective, while Clubhouse is working to keep up. That puts more pressure on the Clubhouse team to invest heavily in infrastructure to accelerate growth, which it can still do, but as Clubhouse itself notes, its sudden growth has put its systems under significant strain.

And if it can’t open up more widely, and maximize its recommendation algorithms, it’s at huge risk of being superseded by the bigger platforms, which are already starting from a stronger position, with broader reach, better, more personally attuned algorithms, and improved audio features. And those tools are being updated and refined every single day.

Can Clubhouse stay up with the bigger players, even with the arrival of its Android app?

The key likely comes down to two things: creator incentives and algorithm refinement.

On the first, Clubhouse has already announced the first round of finalists for its Creator Accelerator program, which will eventually see 20 Clubhouse-based projects receive training, funding and support to help develop their concepts. That will, ideally, help the platform keep more of its top broadcasters aligned with the app, while Clubhouse is also working on creator payments as another means to build incentive systems to keep broadcasters, and their audiences, coming back again and again.

On the second, many users have already noted that, even at this stage, its become more and more difficult to find Clubhouse rooms that are aligned with their interests. That will only get worse as the app opens up to more people, so Clubhouse needs to work on its algorithm tools to ensure that each user is being alerted to the most relevant content to them, in order to keep them active – and again, returning to the app.

As Clubhouse notes, it is working on this, while it’s also recently added scheduled room listings on user profiles and RSVP tools to help improve its systems. This will become an increasingly complex technological process as more users get access, but if Clubhouse wants to keep competing with its better-resourced competitors, it will need to invest heavily in this element, in order to maximize audience engagement.

That’s how TikTok has been able to stick around, and become a significant competitor in the social space. Because every TikTok clip is full-screen, TikTok is better able to determine user interests based on each and every clip, and the TikTok team has worked to build in a range of measurement factors based on the content of each clip, which has helped it build a highly responsive, and heavily refined, personalization algorithm that’s able to suck users in, and keep them coming back and scrolling through its video clips for hours on end.

Clubhouse doesn’t have the same advantages that TikTok does in this respect, but it can work to establish connections between the rooms each person visits, how long they spend in each, the people they regularly listen to, etc. Using these factors, Clubhouse can create an effective personal recommendation algorithm, which could still see it become a more significant audio social option over time.

But the path ahead is not easy, and Clubhouse seems like it’s already stretched as it works to keep pace.

It can still win out, with a dedicated audience, and expanding reach, along with engaged creators and a ‘cool factor’ that the other, legacy social apps simply don’t have at this stage.

But the challenge is significant, and rising.

Hopefully, the arrival of an Android app, slightly ahead of schedule, is a sign of more good things to come for the Clubhouse team. 

Android users can download Clubhouse for Android and sign up now to be alerted once it’s available to you, while you can read more about the app’s Android release here.

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address


Paris mayor to stop using ‘global sewer’ X



Hidalgo called Twitter a 'vast global sewer'

Hidalgo called Twitter a ‘vast global sewer’ – Copyright POOL/AFP Leon Neal

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Monday she was quitting Elon Musk’s social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, which she described as a “global sewer” and a tool to disrupt democracy.

“I’ve made the decision to leave X,” Hidalgo said in an op-ed in French newspaper Le Monde. “X has in recent years become a weapon of mass destruction of our democracies”, she wrote.

The 64-year-old Socialist, who unsuccessfully stood for the presidency in 2022, joined Twitter as it was then known in 2009 and has been a frequent user of the platform.

She accused X of promoting “misinformation”, “anti-Semitism and racism.”

“The list of abuses is endless”, she added. “This media has become a vast global sewer.”

Since Musk took over Twitter in 2022, a number of high-profile figures said they were leaving the popular social platform, but there has been no mass exodus.

Several politicians including EU industry chief Thierry Breton have announced that they are opening accounts on competing networks in addition to maintaining their presence on X.

The City of Paris account will remain on X, the mayor’s office told AFP.

By contrast, some organisations have taken the plunge, including the US public radio network NPR, or the German anti-discrimination agency.

Hidalgo has regularly faced personal attacks on social media including Twitter, as well as sometimes criticism over the lack of cleanliness and security in Paris.

In the latest furore, she has faced stinging attacks over an October trip to the French Pacific territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia that was not publicised at the time and that she extended with a two-week personal vacation.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading


Meta Highlights Key Platform Manipulation Trends in Latest ‘Adversarial Threat Report’



Meta Highlights Key Platform Manipulation Trends in Latest ‘Adversarial Threat Report’

While talk of a possible U.S.  ban of TikTok has been tempered of late, concerns still linger around the app, and the way that it could theoretically be used by the Chinese Government to implement varying forms of data tracking and messaging manipulation in Western regions.

The latter was highlighted again this week, when Meta released its latest “Adversarial Threat Report,” which includes an overview of Meta’s latest detections, as well as a broader summary of its efforts throughout the year.

And while the data shows that Russia and Iran remain the most common source regions for coordinated manipulation programs, China is third on that list, with Meta shutting down almost 5,000 Facebook profiles linked to a Chinese-based manipulation program in Q3 alone.

As explained by Meta:

“We removed 4,789 Facebook accounts for violating our policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior. This network originated in China and targeted the United States. The individuals behind this activity used basic fake accounts with profile pictures and names copied from elsewhere on the internet to post and befriend people from around the world. They posed as Americans to post the same content across different platforms. Some of these accounts used the same name and profile picture on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter). We removed this network before it was able to gain engagement from authentic communities on our apps.”

Meta says that this group aimed to sway discussion around both U.S. and China policy by both sharing news stories, and engaging with posts related to specific issues.

“They also posted links to news articles from mainstream US media and reshared Facebook posts by real people, likely in an attempt to appear more authentic. Some of the reshared content was political, while other covered topics like gaming, history, fashion models, and pets. Unusually, in mid-2023 a small portion of this network’s accounts changed names and profile pictures from posing as Americans to posing as being based in India when they suddenly began liking and commenting on posts by another China-origin network focused on India and Tibet.”

Meta further notes that it took down more Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) groups from China than any other region in 2023, reflecting the rising trend of Chinese operators looking to infiltrate Western networks.  

“The latest operations typically posted content related to China’s interests in different regions worldwide. For example, many of them praised China, some of them defended its record on human rights in Tibet and Xinjiang, others attacked critics of the Chinese government around the world, and posted about China’s strategic rivalry with the U.S. in Africa and Central Asia.”

Google, too, has repeatedly removed large clusters of YouTube accounts of Chinese origin that had been seeking to build audiences in the app, in order to then seed pro-China sentiment.

The largest coordinated group identified by Google is an operation known as “Dragonbridge” which has long been the biggest originator of manipulative efforts across its apps.

As you can see in this chart, Google removed more than 50,000 instances of Dragonbridge activity across YouTube, Blogger and AdSense in 2022 alone, underlining the persistent efforts of Chinese groups to sway Western audiences.

So these groups, whether they’re associated with the CCP or not, are already looking to infiltrate Western-based networks. Which underlines the potential threat of TikTok in the same respect, given that it’s controlled by a Chinese owner, and therefore likely more directly accessible to these operators.

That’s partly why TikTok is already banned on government-owned devices in most regions, and why cybersecurity experts continue to sound the alarm about the app, because if the above figures reflect the level of activity that non-Chinese platforms are already seeing, you can only imagine that, as TikTok’s influence grows, it too will be high on the list of distribution for the same material.

And we don’t have the same level of transparency into TikTok’s enforcement efforts, nor do we have a clear understanding of parent company ByteDance’s links to the CCP.

Which is why the threat of a possible TikTok ban remains, and will linger for some time yet, and could still spill over if there’s a shift in U.S./China relations.

One other point of note from Meta’s Adversarial Threat Report is its summary of AI usage for such activity, and how it’s changing over time.

X owner Elon Musk has repeatedly pointed to the rise of generative AI as a key vector for increased bot activity, because spammers will be able to create more complex, harder to detect bot accounts through such tools. That’s why X is pushing towards payment models as a means to counter bot profile mass production.

And while Meta does agree that AI tools will enable threat actors to create larger volumes of convincing content, it also says that it hasn’t seen evidence “that it will upend our industry’s efforts to counter covert influence operations” at this stage.

Meta also makes this interesting point:

“For sophisticated threat actors, content generation hasn’t been a primary challenge. They rather struggle with building and engaging authentic audiences they seek to influence. This is why we have focused on identifying adversarial behaviors and tactics used to drive engagement among real people. Disrupting these behaviors early helps to ensure that misleading AI content does not play a role in covert influence operations. Generative AI is also unlikely to change this dynamic.”

So it’s not just content that they need, but interesting, engaging material, and because generative AI is based on everything that’s come before, it’s not necessarily built to establish new trends, which would then help these bot accounts build an audience.

These are some interesting notes on the current threat landscape, and how coordinated groups are still looking to use digital platforms to spread their messaging. Which will likely never stop, but it is worth noting where these groups originate from, and what that means for related discussion.

You can read Meta’s Q3 “Adversarial Threat Report” here.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading


US judge halts pending TikTok ban in Montana



TikTok use has continued to grow apace despite a growing number of countries banning the app from government devices

TikTok use has continued to grow apace despite a growing number of countries banning the app from government devices. — © POOL/AFP Liam McBurney

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a ban on TikTok set to come into effect next year in Montana, saying the popular video sharing app was likely to win its pending legal challenge.

US District Court Judge Donald Molloy placed the injunction on the ban until the case, originally filed by TikTok in May, has been ruled on its merits.

Molloy deemed it likely TikTok and its users will win, since it appeared the Montana law not only violates free speech rights but runs counter to the fact that foreign policy matters are the exclusive domain of the federal government.

“The current record leaves little doubt that Montana’s legislature and attorney general were more interested in targeting China’s ostensible role in TikTok than they with protecting Montana consumers,” Molloy said in the ruling.

The app is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance and has been accused by a wide swathe of US politicians of being under Beijing’s tutelage, something the company furiously denies.

Montana’s law says the TikTok ban will become void if the app is acquired by a company incorporated in a country not designated by the United States as a foreign adversary.

TikTok had argued that the unprecedented ban violates constitutionally protected right to free speech.

The prohibition signed into law by Republican Governor Greg Gianforte is seen as a legal test for a national ban of the Chinese-owned platform, something lawmakers in Washington are increasingly calling for.

Montana’s ban would be the first to come into effect in the United States – Copyright AFP Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

The ban would make it a violation each time “a user accesses TikTok, is offered the ability to access TikTok, or is offered the ability to download TikTok.”

Each violation is punishable by a $10,000 fine every day it takes place.

Under the law, Apple and Google will have to remove TikTok from their app stores.

State political leaders have “trampled on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information, and run their small business in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment,” ACLU Montana policy director Keegan Medrano said after the bill was signed.

The law is yet another skirmish in duels between TikTok and many western governments, with the app already banned on government devices in the United States, Canada and several countries in Europe.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading