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What is Clubhouse? Everything to know about the invite-only app

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What is Clubhouse? Everything to know about the invite-only app

It’s part Facebook, part podcast and super exclusive.

The audio-based social network app Clubhouse has been making headlines since it launched in March, but this weekend, it was propelled to a new tier of mainstream awareness when Elon Musk used it. Currently the world’s richest person, Musk appeared on the iPhone-only app Sunday night to talk with Vlad Tenev, CEO of Robinhood, the stock-trading app for amateur brokers.

Musk’s conversation created so much hype that stock for a similarly named company that is completely unrelated to the social app — Clubhouse Media Group — jumped 117%, Reuters reported. 

Here’s everything to know about Clubhouse’s innovative format and functionality, its short life so far and how to get an invite. 

How does it work?

Software analyst Jordan Minor described the network as “if Twitter was a podcast you lived inside of.” 

“Clubhouse is a space for casual, drop-in audio conversations — with friends and other interesting people around the world,” offers Clubhouse’s brief self-description. “Go online anytime to chat with the people you follow, or hop in as a listener and hear what others are talking about.” 

The audio-based social network features no pictures or videos, just public and private conversation rooms. Users have only profile pictures and followers. Chats are not recorded; users get around this by livestreaming conversations on other platforms, including YouTube. 

When users want to talk, they virtually raise their hand. Room creators and moderators determine whom to grant talking permission to. 

Musk significantly surpassed the maximum amount of people allowed per room — only 5,000 users are technically supposed to be in each conversation. “General rudeness” is allowed, but hate speech, sexism and abuse are not, and a spokeswoman for the app told Reuters they’ve already had to ban some users. 

How did it come to be?

Clubhouse’s launch coincided with the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, in March 2020. The San Francisco-based app is run by the company Alpha Exploration Co., which got a $12 million investment from venture capital behemoth Andreessen Horowitz after Clubhouse had been live for just two months, PCMag reported. The app has about 10 staffers, a spokeswoman told Reuters.

How exclusive is it?

Clubhouse is invite-only, with each new user getting two invites to use as they please, accruing more over time as they use the app, according to PCMag. 

Invites have become such a hot commodity, they’re being sold on Alibaba’s second-hand marketplace in China (where the app isn’t even available in Apple’s App Store) and in the US on Reddit, eBay and Craigslist, Reuters reported. 

Celebrities including Kevin Hart, Drake and Tiffany Haddish are on the app, as are many black creators.

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CD Projekt delays Cyberpunk 2077 fix due to cyberattack

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CD Projekt delays Cyberpunk 2077 fix due to cyberattack

Polish video games maker CD Projekt is delaying the release of a patch for its Cyberpunk 2077 game until the second half of March, it said on Wednesday, after a cyberattack slowed down work on fixes for the troubled game.

The cyberattack earlier this month compromised some of CD Projekt’s internal systems including the source code to Cyberpunk 2077, dealing another blow to the Warsaw-based business after the game’s launch was beset by glitches.

“While we dearly wanted to deliver Patch 1.2 for Cyberpunk 2077 in the timespan we detailed previously, the recent cyber attack on the studio’s IT infrastructure and extensive scope of the update mean this unfortunately will not happen,” the company wrote on Twitter.

After releasing some fixes for the game in January, the company had planned to release a bigger patch in February.

Shares in the company, which rose to fame on the back of the success of its medieval fantasy Witcher series, plunged at the end of last year due to the Cyberpunk roll-out problems.

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Facebook silenced Kurdish group to stop hit on its business

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Facebook silenced Kurdish group to stop hit on its business

Sheryl Sandberg and other top Facebook execs silenced a Kurdish group at the request of the Turkish government in a bid to protect its business in 2018, according to a new report.

According to ProPublica, Turkey, which was launching a bloody military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria, demanded that Facebook block posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group that the Turkish government had targeted.

If Facebook didn’t give in to Turkey’s demands, it faced losing tens of millions of users in the country. On the flip side, silencing the group, known as YPG, would add to the perception that Facebook too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments and that it values its business over all else.

In a series of newly disclosed emails from the company’s leadership, ProPublica revealed that there was no hand-wringing over the ethical dilemma. In response to Turkey’s demand that Facebook block YPG’s posts, Sandberg, the social media giant’s No. 2 exec simply wrote: “I am fine with this.”

The terse one-line email reply was not accompanied by any other thoughts.

According to ProPublica, the emails show that deliberations were centered on keeping the platform operational, not on human rights.

“The page caused us a few PR fires in the past,” one Facebook manager warned of the YPG material.

The chairman of Turkey’s telecommunications regulator reminded Facebook “to be cautious about the material being posted, especially photos of wounded people,” wrote Mark Smith, a UK-based policy manager in an email to Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy. 

He also added that the government “may ask us to block entire pages and profiles if they become a focal point for sharing illegal content.”

Facebook’s eventual solution was to “geo-block” or selectively bar users in a geographic region from viewing certain content, should the threats from Turkish officials escalate.

Three years later, YPG’s photos and updates about the Turkish military’s brutal attacks on the Kurdish minority in Syria still can’t be viewed by Facebook users inside Turkey, according to the report.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization, although neither the US nor Facebook do.

“We strive to preserve voice for the greatest number of people,” a Facebook spokesman told The Post. “There are however, times when we restrict content based on local law even if it does not violate our Community Standards. In this case, we made the decision based on our policies concerning government requests to restrict content and our international human rights commitments. We disclose the content we restrict in our twice-yearly Transparency Reports and are evaluated by independent experts on our international human rights commitments every two years.”

Facebook’s regulatory filings suggest that cutting off revenue from Turkey could financially harm the tech giant. Facebook includes revenue from Turkey and Russia in the figure it gives for Europe overall and the company reported a 34 percent increase for the continent in annual revenue per user, according to its 2019 10-K filing.

Katitza Rodriguez, policy director for global privacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the potential revenue loss is a big issue for Facebook and others. She said the Turkish government has also managed to force Facebook and other platforms into appointing legal representatives in the country. If tech companies don’t comply, she said, Turkish taxpayers would be prevented from placing ads and making payments to Facebook.

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Australian lawmakers push news law after Facebook concessions

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Australian lawmakers push news law after Facebook concessions

Australian lawmakers advanced a bill that effectively will force Google and Facebook to pay media companies for news content, clearing the last major hurdle for legislation that could set precedents for government policies worldwide.

The bill, which was amended and green-lighted by Australia’s Senate, will return to its House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass as early as this week.

Lawmakers introduced amendments to the so-called Media Bargaining Code after Facebook last week escalated a dispute over the new laws by blocking Australian users from sharing and viewing news content on its popular social media platform.

Facebook on Tuesday said it would restore Australian users’ access to news in light of the compromise it had reached with the government.

On Wednesday, Facebook also said it plans to spend at least $1 billion in the news industry over the next three years. Facebook follows Google’s pledge last October to pay publishers $1 billion over the next three years.

“We’ve invested $600 million since 2018 to support the news industry, and plan at least $1 billion more over the next three years,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook, said in a blog published Wednesday.

“Facebook is more than willing to partner with news publishers,” added Clegg. “We absolutely recognize quality journalism is at the heart of how open societies function — informing and empowering citizens and holding the powerful to account.”

After the bill passes both houses, news businesses that want to be paid for content that appears on search engines or social media can sign up — provided they meet some conditions, including earning $150,000 per year in revenue.

“What we’ve sworn to do is create a level playing field,” Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Sky News on Wednesday. “We’ve sought to sustain public interest journalism in this country, and we’ve also sought to enhance and encourage those commercial deals between the parties.”

One major change is that Frydenberg will be given the discretion to decide that either Facebook or Google need not be subject to the code if they make a “significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry.”

Australia’s original legislation had required the tech giants to submit to forced arbitration if they could not reach a commercial deal with Australian news companies for their content, effectively allowing the government to set a price.

Some critics worry that small publishers could get cut out of the deal, which is supposed to address the power imbalance between the social media giants and publishers when negotiating payment for news content displayed on the tech firms’ sites.

“The big players could successfully negotiate with Facebook or Google. The minister then doesn’t designate them, and all the little players miss out,” independent senator Rex Patrick, who plans to vote against the amended bill, told Reuters.

Frydenberg said he will give Facebook and Google time to strike deals with Australian media companies before deciding whether to enforce his new powers.

After first threatening to withdraw its search engine from Australia, Google instead struck a series of deals with several publishers, including a global news deal with News Corp.

Major television broadcaster and newspaper publisher Seven West Media on Tuesday said it had signed a letter of intent to reach a content supply deal with Facebook within 60 days.

Rival Nine Entertainment Co also revealed on Wednesday it was in negotiations with Facebook.

“At this stage, we’re still obviously proceeding with negotiations,” Nine chief executive Hugh Marks told analysts at a company briefing on Wednesday. “It is really positive for our business and positive particularly for the publishing business.”

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