Clubhouse - Blocked by the black spot!
It is not a major deal to block someone on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Since your feed is made up of discrete, personalized posts, blocking one can be easy, unobtrusive, and it is among many conveniences that social media offers.
But what if blocking didn't work that way? The Clubhouse social audio platform (established this year) relies on live group conversations: Residents in a single “room” hear each other speak at the same time, and that shared context creates all interactions.
Silencing some people's voices while including others' voices would make a conversation incoherent. After hearing user complaints in September about rampant anti-Semitism, and Coronavirus misinformation, Clubhouse decided to create a new style of blocking feature for the new audio first social media platform.
Ultimately, it created information-blocking capabilities that were more powerful, more consequential, and ultimately more contentious than any that existed on any social platform before it. It probably contributed to Clubhouse's success, helping the app reach 10 million active users on iOS in just a year. Clubhouse is finally available for Android this week, which could spell trouble for the platform with its newly styled double-edged sword.
In Clubhouse, blocking someone doesn't just affect communication between the two of parties like other social media blocking features. As a result, a person may also be restricted in communicating with others in shared spaces.
Some consider that this penalty is greater than any crime committed and there lies the rub.
After being blocked, they will be unable to join or even see the rooms the other has created, or the ones in which you are speaking which effectively blocks them from seeing other user in the room as well, including people like co-workers and friends in that room which the blocked user has a genuine connection with.
The person who you block will be blocked from speaking on the same stage and will remain blocked off from the stage while you are up there.
Should the blocked person be in a room the blocker will also not see the room in the hallway, effectively rendering the feature a negative for both parties when in use.
Once the possible bumping into the other is removed the situation is returned to normal, however for this brief period of time in the scheme of things is trouble-some for both users.
At times not divulged by Clubhouse these two people can still be in the same room together, and this then causes possible problems for room moderators.
If a room moderator is trying to bring one of the parties up to speak when the other is on the stage, this action will also be prevented in the name of removing any further interaction between the two parties involved, however no one is informed of this situation by Clubhouse to protect the blocker's identity. Making this feature one of the most controversial features in social media today.
In fact, it has a visual representation which provides more discussion. An ominous symbol can be seen on the profile of a user by anyone that could be connected with both the wearer and the blocker. An unspecified number of users will activate this hidden icon on the users profile. A black shield with a white exclamation mark at it's centre.
Officially Clubhouse calls this mark a “shared block list.” however the Clubhouse community has come up with many other names that highlight the tone and affects of such a public mark “shield of the damned” being one excellent example. While others can see it on a user’s profile, the marked user isn't able to see the black shield at all and most are unaware they’ve been given this black mark until someone else breaks the news which could be weeks or even months after the award.
The only way to remove the mark is to contact the people that pressed the block button in the first place. Something that's almost impossible to accomplish without some detective work that Sherlock would be proud of, given the highlighted points above and the lack of knowledge and awareness of the who provided this user with the mark in the first place.
The negatives of having such a mark is clear and although it's easy to see how such a mark can be used as weapon against unsuspecting users. It also provides a hidden code of conduct that isn't present in many other social media platforms. One that can be heard on many room stages.
It's not all negative however, as this social shunning and exclusion also provided a hidden yet strong code of conduct that isn't present in many other social media platforms. One that can be heard on many room stages with a sense of inclusion and tolerance from many diverse stand points.
A black shield against your reputation or name isn't something you want to have in any situation, which is why keeping an open mind and a smart approach to rooms and other members should alleviate this concern for the average user.
In time, we hope that this feature can be developed to make the Clubhouse environment a saver place and constructive platform, suggestions could be a notice to the user as a first warning of a possible mark for poor conduct or the option for Clubhouse to provide a silent connection with parties involved in some types of dispute to reconcile disputes.
In time, we can expect some changes to this feature after Paul Davidson the CEO of Clubhouse indicated that internal messaging is due to be developed for the platform in the months to come.
We would love to hear your views on this black spot, and hope that your comments can be shared with the Clubhouse development team, drop your comments below and share to help get the most feedback on this most controversial of subjects.