Social audio app Clubhouse has joined the other social platforms in taking steps to protect the privacy and safety of its users who are natives of Afghanistan. Before now, Facebook introduced this tools to help people in Afghanistan lock down their accounts. Facebook said it had added security measures for users in Afghanistan, including hiding “friends” lists and adding a tool to quickly lock down accounts. This week, Clubhouse is doing the same thing.
The company announced on Twitter that it was proactively making some changes to the privacy settings for users in Afghanistan. Specifically, for users who “haven’t been active,” Clubhouse is hiding their photo and bio and making their accounts more difficult to discover in search. According to Clubhouses’ spokesperson, these actions does not affect the users’ followers, and all of the changes can be reversed if a user chooses. Users are free to add back any information they feel comfortable sharing, and they can also reach out to support to make their account “more discoverable.”
Another safety measures for its user community, Clubhouse has also been reminding its Afghan users that it does allow pseudonyms (a fictitious name) for human rights or safety purposes. The company consulted with free expression and violent extremism experts to help craft its approach, the spokesperson said.
This move comes about a month after Clubhouse came out of beta and opened its service to everyone. More crucially, it comes as the Taliban takes control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan; the militant organization is using social media to help change perceptions. Recall, earlier in the week, viral reports announced Taliban soldiers have regained control over the country, and as a result Afghans have taken to their heels for safety. Many people in Afghanistan have tried to delete photos from their social media accounts and phones that could show a connection to the West, or support the former Afghan government.
The US still considers the Taliban a terrorist organization, and as such Facebook has completely banned all content from the group. There hasn’t been a similarly straightforward statement from Clubhouse, but it’s clear the company is coming up with various measures on how to protect its users within the region. And despite bans on many social platforms, the Taliban has been able to push its messaging on social media, becoming as The Washington Post wrote, sophisticated at social media tactics in an attempt to change its image.