Clubhouse debuts ‘protected profiles’ in response to at-risk users in Ukraine and Russia

    Invite-only social audio platform Clubhouse will let users limit who can see their full profiles due to increased security threats related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a company . Users can now change their profile settings to “protected”, which will only allow pre-approved followers to view the rooms and clubs they’ve visited, as well as replays. Unapproved followers won’t be able to see when a user is online. Clubhouse also won’t recommend protected profile holders to other users they don’t know.

    “We’re grateful we’ve become a meeting place for people around the world to connect during this time, but we also know that times of conflict and upheaval make it increasingly important to be mindful of your presence online and what you share,” wrote the platform in its post.

    The nearly two-year-old platform has been slow to roll out moderation and safety features for its many users, despite regular instances of harassment and abuse on the app. A number of Clubhouse users have faced targeted harassment on the platform, including giving advice on the Covid-19 pandemic, , , and . It’s also very hard to remain anonymous on the platform. Clubhouse requires a phone number to join, and (unless you opt out) will recommend other Clubhouse in your phone’s contact list. It also requires you to use your real first and last name in order to create a profile. 

    Clubhouse remains one of the few Western tech companies that , or been banned in Russia. For many anti-war Russians, Clubhouse remains one of few viable options for relaying to the outside world. Meanwhile, many users from have flocked to Clubhouse to discuss the ongoing invasion. Given the app’s lack of anonymity, it’s likely such users would need an extra security measure.

    But as far as privacy goes, Clubhouse only offers the bare minimum, even with protected profiles. Users will still be able to see the names, usernames, bios and any linked social media on protected profiles. The platform also turned off its “Replay” feature for all users in Ukraine, meaning that conversations will no longer be recorded by default. Besides that, Clubhouse users are left to use their best judgment when it comes to expressing views that could get them in trouble with their government or disclosing personal information.

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