Clubhouse users are teaching each other how to stay private from Instagram

Clubhouse users are teaching each other how to stay private from InstagramOne of the first things that you hear to do on Clubhouse is to add your Twitter and Instagram accounts to your Clubhouse profile for discoverability because otherwise there’s really no way to “DM” somebody. Recently though, in almost every room of a certain size, there’s an addendum to that advice. After putting your Instagram account on your Clubhouse profile, the next step is very important: Go to your Instagram settings and unlink Clubhouse.

How to remove Clubhouse from Instagram in Settings

  1. Login to your Instagram account online
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Choose the Apps and Websites Setting
  4. You’ll see Clubhouse as one of the apps under Active
  5. Click “Remove”
  6. Bonus points if you click “View and Edit” before doing so

Why unlink Instagram and Clubhouse?

Theories on what Instagram is doing with the information that it gets from Clubhouse vary a lot. What is clear is that Instagram knows that you’re on Clubhouse and that Instagram logs whatever Clubhouse gives them for use by Facebook’s algorithms – but what info is that? Some believe that Instagram is additionally able to listen in on the mic and is therefore listening in on Clubhouse conversations and feeding it to their ad algorithm. Others have even warned that Instagram is shadow banning accounts that mention the keyword “Clubhouse” or even the club or house emojis in DMs. What is clear is that there is a sharp mistrust between Clubhouse users and Instagram. It is reported that Facebook is working on its own Clubhouse clone as we speak.

What actually happens when you link Instagram to Clubhouse

Linking Instagram to Clubhouse adds Clubhouse to the list of Apps and Websites that “you’ve used Instagram to log into and have recently used. They can request info you chose to share with them.” According to Clubhouse’s privacy policy and the linking process that everyone explicitly allows, the only information being shared is only username and account type (business or personal). No mic access, no photo access. However, the way the language reads lends some explanation to where the miscommunication is coming from:

“By allowing, Clubhouse: Drop-in audio chat will receive ongoing access to your information and instagram will record when Clubhouse: Drop-in audio chat accesses it.”

If you are one of the rare animals that clicks “Learn more” during this process, it will reveal this explanation of what the word “record” means in this context:

“Apps and websites may request access to the information you’ve shared from Instagram. These requests are automatically logged by our systems and are not controlled by your device settings.”

So that’s what’s actually happening here:

Logging of when Clubhouse requests information from Instagram; Not Instagram literally recording audio when Clubhouse accesses it. When you unlink Instagram and Clubhouse in Instagram’s Settings, your Clubhouse profile still showcases your Instagram username so it’s a good thing to do, and it’s understandable why this piece of advice to unlink Instagram and Clubhouse continues to be heard through the grapevine.

On the Instagram side of things, CEO Adam Mosseri has previously responded to the always-listening mic accusation on CBS where he said:

“We don’t look at your messages, we don’t listen in on your microphone, doing so would be super problematic for a lot of different reasons. But I recognize you’re not gonna really believe me.”

Other Clubhouse Privacy Tips

Another thing to watch out for in Clubhouse privacy is that anybody listening in could be recording the conversation. The rooms with the big red circle are just the ones nice enough to let you know it’s happening. Oh yeah, those that don’t want Twitter to have access to their mics either can also unlink Twitter and Clubhouse through a very similar process. While this particular privacy alert may have more bark than bite, it’s very good that Clubhouse users are getting concerned about their privacy. This vigilance is important, and just because everyone cried wolf this time due to poor copywriting doesn’t mean that next time it won’t be real.
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