- China appears to have banned Clubhouse, the invite-only social media app.
- “Clubhouse is now blocked in most cities in China,” journalist Michael Anti tweeted Monday.
- Chinese users had flocked to the uncensored app to chat openly about political topics.
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Buzzy social media app Clubhouse appears to have been blocked in China.
The invite-only app remained uncensored in China until Monday, and people flocked to it to discuss political topics. Some Chinese users were paying more than $US60 for an invite, and chat rooms were discussing Xinjiang’s Uighur detention camps and Taiwan independence, Reuters reported.
Soon after, Li Yuan, tech columnist for the New York Times in Asia, tweeted: “My Wechat timeline is full of posts about Clubhouse being blocked in China. What a brief moment of free expression!”
Bloomberg reported that local users could no longer access the app.
The reported ban comes after Chinese users flooded Clubhouse to chat about politics and other sensitive topics. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Clubhouse wasn’t censored in the country. Conversations on the audio-only app aren’t recorded, and it’s available by invitation only.
Chinese users were so keen to access Clubhouse that they were paying between 50-400 yuan (between $US7.73 and $US69.59) on popular Chinese e-commerce sites for an invitation, according to Reuters.
Xinjiang detention camps, Taiwan independence, and Hong Kong’s National Security Law have been popular topics of discussion in chat rooms, Reuters reported.
One Chinese language chat room on Sunday attracted 700 participants, who compared the political systems of China and Taiwan and expressed concern over the one-party rule in China,The Financial Times reported Sunday.
The app launched in early 2021 and had been downloaded 2.3 million times by January 31, according to mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower, per the BBC. The company said it has at least 2 million users, and was last valued by its venture investors at $US1.4 billion.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk led a wide-ranging interview on Clubhouse on January 31 about his ambitions to colonise Mars and his love of memes. He finished the event by questioning Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev over the GameStop stock saga.
After Musk tweeted he would be speaking on the app, demand for invitations skyrocketed, and they began selling on sites like Twitter and eBay for up to $US100 .
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance on a Clubhouse talk show on Thursday evening to chat about futuristic tech.