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  1. Clubhouse finally launches its Android app Image Credits: SOPA Images (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images Clubhouse finally has an Android app that you can download from the Play Store — provided you live in the U.S. The voice-based social network launched its beta Android app on Play Store for users in the U.S. on Sunday, and said it will gradually make the new app available in other English-speaking countries and then the rest of the world. The social network, valued at about $4 billion in its most recent fundraise, launched as an iPhone-only app last year. The app quickly gained popularity last year, attracting several high-profile celebrities, politicians, investors, and entrepreneurs. Clubhouse began developing the Android app early this year and started to test the beta version externally this month. In a town hall earlier Sunday, the startup said availability on Android has been the most requested product feature. “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,” the team wrote. Clubhouse download figures across some of its popular markets, according to estimates by mobile insight firm AppMagic. (Though Clubhouse’s precise download figures from other mobile insight firms vary, they all agree that Clubhouse app’s popularity has dropped in recent months.) As Clubhouse struggles to maintain its growth — data from mobile insight firms including AppMagic suggests that Clubhouse installs have drastically dropped in recent months — the Android app could prove pivotal in boosting the startup’s reach across the globe. Clubhouse could potentially — on paper — also supercharge its growth by allowing any user to join the service without an invitation. But the startup said retaining the waitlist and invite system is part of its effort to “keep the growth measured.” (Clubhouse has faced several moderation challenges in recent months.) Clubhouse’s launch on Android comes at a time when scores of technology giants including Facebook, Twitter, Discord, Spotify, Reddit, and Microsoft’s LinkedIn, have either launched their similar offerings — or announced plans to do so. Twitter’s clone of Clubhouse, called Spaces, has emerged as one of the biggest competitors to the A16z and Tiger Global-backed-startup. An unplanned Twitter Spaces, available on Android as well, hosted by a high-profile Indian startup founder on earlier Sunday attracted hundreds of listeners within a few minutes, for instance. “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,” Clubhouse team wrote. Clubhouse’s beta Android app currently lacks a number of features such as the ability to follow a topic, in-app translations, localization, ability to create or manage a club, link Twitter and Instagram profiles, payments, as well as the ability to change the profile name or user name. “With Android, we believe that Clubhouse will feel more complete,” read the blog post. Source: Clubhouse finally launches its Android app
  2. A Tale of 3 Data 'Leaks': Clubhouse, LinkedIn, Facebook Confusion Over Hacking, Scraping and Amassing Highlights Data Lockdown Imperative Post to cybercrime forum describes Clubhouse user data being offered for sale Criminals love to amass and sell vast quantities of user data, but not all data leaks necessarily pose a risk to users. Even so, the ease with which would-be attackers can amass user data is a reminder to organizations to lock down inappropriate access as much as possible. That's a takeaway experts offer after large tranches of data recently became available for sale or for free. The data allegedly was obtained from three social networks: Clubhouse, LinkedIn and Facebook. Scammers can use such data to target individuals via social engineering attacks, and phishers can use it to craft lures, among other potential threats. Clubhouse - a startup social media network accessed via an app - and LinkedIn have both confirmed that large amounts of their user data has appeared online. But both services say the data, which is being offered for sale on darknet forums, was scraped from public-facing pages. So what buyers would be paying for is getting access to all of this public information at once. The story is different, however, with the latest Facebook data breach to come to light. Earlier this month, 533 million users' details - including phone numbers that were set to not display on their profiles - were being offered for free online after having been available for purchase. In response, Facebook said attackers had obtained the data "not through hacking our systems but by scraping it from our platform," apparently by abusing an API that Facebook built to allow users to find each other. "If you provide an API … work on the assumption of it being abused." —Troy Hunt Experts say the resulting records, linking people's names, email addresses, phone numbers and more, are a potential gold mine for fraudsters and phishers (see: Facebook Tries to 'Scrape' Its Way Through Another Breach). Ireland's Data Protection Commission is probing the breach, in line with its authority to enforce the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. Facebook says it's attempting to trace the posted information back, and it has suggested that the data dump may include information amassed from multiple sources, not all of them involving private information held by the social network and its ancillary services. LinkedIn: 'Not a Data Breach' While a Facebook feature appears to have exposed private data for more than a half-billion users, the story looks different for LinkedIn and Clubhouse. Last week, a cybercrime forum seller began advertising 500 million LinkedIn records, offering 2 million of the records as a sampler for $2 in forum credits and access to all records for a four-figure sum, CyberNews first reported. The seller said the profiles included "emails, phone and other details." In a statement released on Thursday, LinkedIn said the data involves only information that is already publicly accessible via its site and may have been combined with information from other sites. "We have investigated an alleged set of LinkedIn data that has been posted for sale and have determined that it is actually an aggregation of data from a number of websites and companies," LinkedIn says. "It does include publicly viewable member profile data that appears to have been scraped from LinkedIn. This was not a LinkedIn data breach, and no private member account data from LinkedIn was included in what we've been able to review." In other words, while seeing so much user data get amassed in one place might be concerning - and of use to social engineers and others - this information was already in circulation. Clubhouse Data Also Scraped The same also appears to be true for Clubhouse, which saw information from about 1.3 million user profiles get posted on a cybercrime forum on or around Saturday. The poster said that the data had been scraped from Clubhouse using one of its APIs. Clubhouse is an iOS-based app that enables users to set up virtual audio chat rooms, to which most participants will then be listening in. The service, which launched early last year, is still invite-only, but the Guardian reports that buzz over Clubhouse has been building, especially after Tesla founder Elon Musk used it in February to host a popular chat. The scraped Clubhouse data includes name and username, user ID, profile photo, number of followers, number of other Clubhouse users followed, an account creation date, who invited the user to the platform and sometimes Instagram and Twitter handles. The data does not include personally identifiable information, such as phone numbers, email addresses or other sensitive information. In a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday, Clubhouse denied that it had been breached or hacked after reports emerged that user data had appeared on the cybercrime forum. This is misleading and false. Clubhouse has not been breached or hacked. The data referred to is all public profile information from our app, which anyone can access via the app or our API. https://t.co/I1OfPyc0Bo— Clubhouse (@joinClubhouse) April 11, 2021 Clubhouse officials didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment. Expert View: The API Challenge The posted Clubhouse data poses no risk to users, says Jane Manchun Wong, a Hong Kong-based software engineer and security researcher who often blogs about unreleased features in popular applications. "The kind of data gathered here is no different than going to someone's Clubhouse profile and taking a screenshot," Wong says. The data was likely scraped using one of Clubhouse's "private" APIs or one that is used by its app to retrieve data, Wong says. Whoever downloaded the data may have simply cycled through user IDs sequentially, she says. Not seeing any private info in this "leaked data" of Clubhouse The user IDs are numerical. So it just seems like someone scraped the data by hitting Clubhouse's private API, iterating from user ID 1 to beyond https://t.co/MBWG46JmCB— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 11, 2021 Services generally use rate-limiting and other defensive measures to ensure their APIs aren't abused. Wong says that if the data was obtained by iterating through numerical user IDs, Clubhouse should have enabled rate limiting on its private API if it does not already do that, because its users have an expectation of privacy. But even with rate limiting, amassing all of this information would still be possible. "It'll only be slower, but it can still be done," Wong says. Troy Hunt, creator of the free Have I Been Pwned data breach notification service, says APIs pose this paradox: If developers want to make users discoverable to other users, it's difficult to ensure that the underlying API will only be used for that purpose - in other words, by only the right users and for the right reasons. "If you provide an API, regardless what you protect with rate limiting," expect that whatever data it touches "will be aggregated," Hunt says. "You work on the assumption of it being abused." Source: A Tale of 3 Data 'Leaks': Clubhouse, LinkedIn, Facebook
  3. Clubhouse says its Android launch will take ‘a couple of months’ Image Credits: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images Social audio app Clubhouse has now promised a time frame of sorts for the launch of its anticipated Android version, following its recent hire of an Android software developer last month. In its weekly Townhall event on Sunday, Clubhouse co-founder Paul Davison remarked that the company was working “really hard” to come to Android, but said it’s going to take a “couple of months” to make that happen. That seems to indicate a time frame that’s closer to late spring or summer 2021. Clubhouse had previously said in a late January blog post that it would begin work on its Android version “soon,” but had not yet promised any sort of time frame as to when it would be able to bring that version to the public. Instead, most of its statements about Android have been vague mentions of the importance of supporting the Android user base and making its app more accessible to a wider audience. In the meantime, Clubhouse’s biggest rival, Twitter Spaces, has been taking advantage of Clubhouse’s delay to address the sizable Android user base by rapidly rolling out support to more people across platforms. This month, for example, Twitter Spaces opened up to Android users, allowing anyone on Android to join and talk inside its live audio rooms. Shortly thereafter, Twitter said that it plans to publicly launch Twitter Spaces to the general public in April. That would be well ahead of Clubhouse, unless the latter rapidly speeds up development and drops its invite-only status in the weeks ahead. During Sunday’s Clubhouse Townhall, co-founder Davison explained the company’s approach to scaling to a larger market — like one where Android users participate — as an effort that requires a slower pace, when it comes to opening up access to more users. He noted that when Clubhouse grows, the discovery experience inside the app can be negatively impacted as a result. Users today are seeing more foreign language groups in their feeds, for instance, and are having a harder time finding friends and some of the best content, he said. To address these challenges, Clubhouse plans to make several changes, including tweaks to the app’s Activity feed, tools to give users more control over their push notifications, and the launch of more personalization features — like showing users a personalized list of suggested rooms that appear on screen when you first open the app. These sorts of improvements are necessary to make Clubhouse succeed even as it scales its app to a larger user base, the company believes. That said, Davison also spoke of dropping Clubhouse’s invite-only status as something it hopes to do “in the coming months.” He noted that he wants the app to open up to everyone, because there are “so many incredible creators not yet on Clubhouse, who have an audience elsewhere.” “It’s going to be really important that we just open up to everyone,” Davison said. “Android’s going to be really important. Localization is obviously going to be very important.” Plus, making Clubhouse more accessible was important, too, he said. The lack of an Android version of Clubhouse has already caused some complications for the company. A number of Android app developers have taken advantage of the hole left in the market to hawk their “Clubhouse guides,” which intentionally aim to confuse Android users looking for Clubhouse by using the same app icon. (Google apparently doesn’t bother to weed out low-value and/or infringing content like this from the Play Store.) "clubhouse" on android pic.twitter.com/uFtilOislC — Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa) March 2, 2021 More recently, cybercriminals have gotten in on the action, too. They’ve created fake versions of Clubhouse that even pointed to a well-executed copy of the Clubhouse website in order to trick users into downloading their malicious app. One of these apps has been found to be spreading BlackRock malware, which steals users’ login credentials for over 450 services, including Facebook, Twitter and Amazon. Davison addressed this issue during the Townhall, warning users that if they see anyone trying to impersonate Clubhouse on Android, not to use that app because “it could be harmful.” “It is certainly not the real Clubhouse. Same thing with PC. There’s no PC app for Clubhouse,” he said, adding that a desktop version of Clubhouse is not a high priority for the company. The company made a number of other announcements, as well, the most notable being its plans for more creator tools. These will be focused on helping creators grow their own audiences for their shows, and even monetize their events, if they choose, through things like direct payments, subscriptions, brand sponsorships and even “paid events.” Clubhouse will also offer tools for managing memberships and tracking metrics around listeners and retention, but overall, details were light on what specific tools would be available or when they would roll out. Clubhouse hasn’t responded to a request for further comment on the statements made during its Townhall event. Source: Clubhouse says its Android launch will take ‘a couple of months’
  4. Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was whether Gates regularly uses an iPhone and if he prefers iOS over Android. "I actually use an Android phone," Gates said. "Because I want to keep track of everything, I'll often play around with iPhones, but the one I carry around happens to be Android." "So Android vs Apple – is this a religious thing?" asked Sorkin. "Some of the Android manufacturers pre-install Microsoft software in a way that makes it easy for me," Gates replied. "They're more flexible about how the software connects up with the operating system. So that's what I ended up getting used to. You know, a lot of my friends have ‌iPhone‌, so there's no purity." Clubhouse co-founder Paul Davison, who was also in the room briefly, told Gates and Sorkin that an Android version of the app is the "top feature" that they're currently working towards and are most excited about. In a 2019 interview, Gates admitted that Microsoft losing to Android as the standard non-Apple phone platform was "one of one of the greatest mistakes of all time" for the Redmond-based company. In fairness to Gates, it was Steve Ballmer who served as Microsoft's CEO between 2000 and 2014. Ballmer infamously laughed off the ‌iPhone‌, but Apple had the last laugh, as Windows Phone failed to ever gain any significant market share among mobile operating systems and was ultimately abandoned. During the Clubhouse meeting, Gates admitted he had an uneasy relationship with Steve Jobs, but called the former Apple CEO "unique." Other topics that came up in Wednesday's online discussion included the global health crisis, climate change, and Gates' new book "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster." The full interview is available on YouTube. Source: Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software
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