Clubhouse removed personal info from Afghan users' accounts as a safety measure

None of these changes are permanent, but they will make accounts harder to find.
Nathan Ingraham
N. Ingraham|08.21.21

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Nathan Ingraham
August 21st, 2021
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Clubhouse Drop-in audio chat app logo on the App Store is seen displayed on a phone screen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on April 6, 2021. (Photo Illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images) NurPhoto via Getty Images

Earlier this week, Facebook introduced tools to help people in Afghanistan lock down their accounts. Clubhouse, the social audio app, 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 it harder to find the accounts in search.

Users are free to then add back any information they feel comfortable sharing, and they can also reach out to support to make their account "more discoverable." As noted by The Verge, Clubhouse says that all the actions it is taking are reversible, and that these changes won't affect users' followers. The company also says that users can use pseudonyms rather than real names for safety purposes.

A Clubhouse spokesperson shared the following statement with Engadget after this story was published: "Clubhouse prohibits terror groups, their members, or the promotion or glorification of those groups, including the Taliban. We use several government lists designating terror groups, regularly update our policies, and work with Tech Against Terrorism as well as other subject matter experts and industry leaders to ensure that users of this nature are permanently removed from the platform."

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 has taken control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan; the militant organization is using social media to help change perceptions. The US still considers the Taliban a terrorist organization, and as such Facebook has banned all content from the group. There hasn't been a similarly straightforward statement from Clubhouse, but it's clear the company is thinking about how to protect its users in the region. 

Update, 8/22/21, 1:45PM ET: This story has been updated with a statement from Clubhouse.

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