The Oban Blog

Clubhouse: What a privacy faux pas tells us about localisation

Clubhouse: What a privacy faux pas tells us about localisation

Over the past year, the Clubhouse app has attracted a lot of attention – and amongst the breathless media coverage, a detail about its privacy policy caught our eye, mainly for what it tells us about localisation. But before we get into that, what is Clubhouse and why should you care?

 

What is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is an audio-only social networking app which launched in April 2020. The app experience provides a cross between podcast-style conversations, interviews, and discussions between interesting people on various topics. Currently, the app is invitation-only – that is, you can only be invited to join by an existing member – but there are plans to make it more widely available in future.

The pandemic – with its emphasis on Zoom calls leading to ‘video fatigue’ – has driven an increasing interest in audio-only content. That’s why competitors are launching or have launched their own audio products – for example, Twitter Spaces, Facebook’s Hotline, Reddit Talk, Discord Stages, Fireside and others. The invitation-only aspect of Clubhouse, plus the number of high-profile celebrities who have joined, have created an exclusive aura. Clubhouse invitations have even been sold online at inflated prices, such is the desire to get involved.

 

A privacy policy only in English?

Like many social media apps early in their development, Clubhouse has faced a range of privacy and security concerns – including a big one: whether the app itself is GDPR compliant. But what caught Oban’s eye was a report that Clubhouse’s privacy policy – at least up until now – was available only in English.

Why is this a problem? Well, it’s a problem because in some countries – and bear in mind that Clubhouse is ‘international’ – it’s a legal requirement to have privacy policies and similar information available in the local language. Failing to provide this can breach local laws. This includes Germany – a famously privacy-conscious country, where both concerns and scrutiny about how consumer data is collected, stored and used are high.

No doubt as Clubhouse evolves, privacy policies and other relevant information will be properly localised. But in the meantime, at the very least, issues like this have the potential to create unfavourable publicity.

 

Localisation is the key to international success

When you transact across markets, it can be easy to overlook elements which require localisation. Examples include:

  • Countries and regions have different formats for addresses, phone numbers and postcodes so address form fields need to vary accordingly. For example, in Italy and Mexico, the house number comes after the street name. In Japan, most streets do not have names, so you must include the block number.
  • A common mistake in global shipping is not to offer enough form fields for international addresses, or not to accept international addresses at the checkout.
  • Payment preferences vary worldwide — so you need to localise those too.
  • Clothing sizes – for example, if you sell women’s shoes, then a UK size 8 is a European size 42 and a Japanese size 26.5. In Japan, customers expect detailed information about sizing – for example, shoulder seam and sleeve length measurements are standard details for retailers to communicate to customers.
  • In the US, dates are displayed as MM-DD-YYYY whereas in most European countries the day precedes the month.

Individually, these details may seem small, or even trivial. Cumulatively, if not localised properly, they add up to a brand that feels “off” to local audiences and will almost certainly negatively impact your conversion rate. High quality localisation will make sure that all the small details that make up the online user journey are correct for your target markets.

 

Navigating legal and regulatory issues

And of course, as Clubhouse discovered, each country has its own legal and regulatory landscape to navigate. For example, as well as specifying that website privacy policies should be available in the local language, commercial websites in Germany are also required to have an Impressum page. An Impressum is a statement of ownership and authorship, and is intended to provide protection for user data, and combat illegal content and spam by making website owners identify themselves and assume responsibility for the content on their platform.

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Use Local In-Market Experts to help you

Oban’s LIME network – made up of over 450 experts in over 80 countries around the world – provide cultural and linguistic insights which help you identity the biggest opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes in your target markets. To find out how, please get in touch.


Chloë McKenna | Director of New Business

Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.