Trendy New App Clubhouse Burns All Of Your Contacts’ Privacy

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Screenshot: Will Oremus via Medium

Tech types and Elon Musk fanboys have their Uniqlos in a bunch over a new app called Clubhouse, an invite-only social media app that offers the ability to listen to other people talk that already exists on approximately 800 million other apps. The app is receiving all manner of fawning media coverage, much of which leaves out a completely nightmarish privacy flaw — Clubhouse completely fucks over the privacy of every single person in your phone’s contacts, by vacuuming up their data without their consent. 

In a Medium post entitled Clubhouse Is Suggesting Users Invite Their Drug Dealers and Therapists, technology reporter Will Oremus describes how “one of the first things the app will ask you to do is grant it access to your iPhone’s contacts. A finger icon points to the ‘OK’ button, which is also in a bolder font and more enticing than the adjacent ‘Don’t Allow’ option. You don’t have to do it, but if you don’t, you lose the ability to invite anyone else to Clubhouse.”

Considering that most Clubhouse users are tech industry sycophants, of course they will happily hand your personal data to Clubhouse without your consent. “The permission dialog iOS presents users before an app is able to access their contacts is, in a sense, being presented to the wrong person,” Nick Heer writes at Pixel Envy. “Can you really consent on behalf of hundreds of friends, family members, and acquaintances? From a purely ethical perspective, the request ought to be pushed to every contact in the directory for approval.”

Of course Clubhouse has already been hacked, everyone in Silicon Valley cares more about growth than they care about security. Bloomberg reported in late February that Clubhouse has already been breached and that supposedly private conversations have been stolen and broadcast without participants’ consent. It’s a fair bet that hackers stole phone numbers too. “Clubhouse cannot provide any privacy promises for conversations held anywhere around the world,”  former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos told Bloomberg.   

The typical tech industry response to outrageous privacy violations is never to acknowledge the problem or try to fix it, but to hide behind the bullshit excuse of “Yeah, but everybody does it.” (NOTE: Not everybody does it.)  But if you’re going to download this VC circle jerk app Clubhouse, and give it access to the phone number of every single person in your contacts, then the least you could do is go through your contacts and buy every single one of them a fancy, expensive dinner with an endless round of cocktails.

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.