Saturday, June 19, 2021
Home World China blocks Clubhouse, the 'only by invitation' app loved by Elon Musk: Here is...

China blocks Clubhouse, the ‘only by invitation’ app loved by Elon Musk: Here is all you need to know

This is not the first time China has bullied an app into making changes to allow censorship as per Chinese laws. In late 2019, Zoom, a popular video and teleconference service, was blocked by the Chinese authorities.

China loves to block social media apps, especially those that pose any ‘threat’ to its CCP-led government. The latest victim of China’s over-censorship is the famous social media app Clubhouse. The Chinese authorities blocked access to the app on February 8. With the termination of access to the app, yet another rare venue for the Chinese citizens have closed down where they could freely discuss politically sensitive subjects.

Users receive an error while accessing the app

Clubhouse works on virtual audio chatrooms. Shortly before the government-imposed restrictions on the app, the Chinese government’s mouthpiece Global Times had criticized political discussions on the app for being one-sided and suppressing pro-Beijing voices. Soon after, the app was blocked.

The users started getting error messages when they tried to access the app from China. The statement read, “An SSL error has occurred and a secure connection to the server cannot be made.” However, the app was still accessible via virtual private networks or VPNs that Chinese citizens often use to access blocked services like Twitter and Facebook.

The Elon Musk impact

The Clubhouse was a relative niche app until last month. Recently, Tesla founder Elon Musk and Vlad Tenev, co-founder of Robinhood, the brokerage app, caught up in a frenzy for GameStop shares. It went viral, causing a surge in the user base of the social media app. Notably, it can be accessed using the iPhone only. Musk also tweeted about the app and shared a link to his room.

A new platform to discuss sensitive issues freely

After President Xi Jinping took over power in 2012, several social media platforms were thrown on the other side of China’s “great firewall.” Everything that gave a platform to talk against the government was blocked. The government’s censorship gave rise to China’s in-house social media apps like Weibo, We Chat and others.

Relatively new apps like Clubhouse are often not on China’s radar as they do not offer a larger platform to the Chinese users. However, Musk’s presence and recent uproar about the app made Chinese users realize that they can use the app to discuss sensitive topics free of government censorship.

Being an ‘invitation only’ app, the conversations on Clubhouse were so much ‘in demand’ that those who can hear them on popular Chinese chatrooms often summarise them live on Twitter for those who do not have the invite for the app.

The demand for an invite to Clubhouse spiked to a level that it was being sold for as high as Rmb500 ($78) during the weekend. Though the app’s access was limited to iPhone users, a large number of China-based users start to appear on Clubhouse that was enough to raise the alarm for the Chinese authorities. As soon as the government blocked access on Monday, access to free-for-all discussion topics that ranged from detention of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang to Taiwan was blocked for all Chinese users.

Chinese users want internet freedom

The sudden surge of Chinese interest in the app shows how desperate Chinese people are to find a way to discuss sensitive issues. The censorship in China has made it possible for the Chinese government to mull any voice raised against it. The same censorship has allowed the government to block access to international investigators to find information about the origin of the Covid-19 virus.

Melissa Chan, a Berlin-based Chinese journalist, was part of one such Chinese groups on Clubhouse. She shared her ordeal of being in such a group. In a long thread, she said that she was in a Taiwanese-run room in Clubhouse that was hosting over 4,000 Mandarin speakers. They were talking about everything from surveillance to friends who’ve left re-education camps. 

When one Chinese user denied the existence of Uyghurs’ detention camps, she explained how a user living outside China responded. She said, “A painful Clubhouse moment as one Chinese speaker denies the existence of detention camps in Xinjiang, while Uyghurs (most or all overseas…?) in the room listen. One Uyghur woman overseas responds, and you can hear her voice shaking.”

This is not the first time China has bullied an app into making changes to allow censorship as per Chinese laws. In late 2019, Zoom, a popular video and teleconference service, was blocked by the Chinese authorities. It was unblocked only after Zoom agreed to a secret “rectification plan” with Chinese authorities and provided them access to calls about sensitive subjects and information about the participants in such discussions.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

Related Articles

Trending now

Netizens trend #SuspendUrbanDictionary, UP police takes cognisance of the insulting ‘definition’ of Mayawati by one Nazia Khan: What happened

On Friday, Urban Dictionary sparked a furore on Twitter after it described Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati as an "unmarried pornstar".

Kerala Congress President K Sudhakaran hatched a plan to kidnap my children says Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan: Here is the full story

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has claimed that the newly-coronated Kerala PCC President K Sudhakaran had planned to kidnap his children

Mamata Banerjee wants Nandigram results re-evaluated even after winning state, calls Judge ‘BJP member’ to cast doubts on Judiciary as well: Details

Only recently, Mamata Banerjee had filed a petition in the court demanding that the Nandigram results be re-evaluated.

Ghaziabad Fake Hate Crime: One accused says he was angry as he lost unborn child because of the ‘tabeez’ given by Abdul Samad

The UP Police which has been investigating the Ghaziabad assault case, is now in the lookout for the absconding local SP leader

Mukesh was burnt alive at Tikri Border because he was a Brahmin? Village head thinks so, the family wants speedy justice

Residents of Kasar village near Tikri border, where Mukesh was burnt alive, demand immediate removal of tents of farmer protestors

“Law of land is supreme, not your policies”: Parliamentary committee to Twitter after its officials said they follow the company’s policies

When the committee asked what Twitter follows, Indian law or own policies, company officials replied that they follow their policies

Recently Popular

Republic TV issues statement over Arnab Goswami’s disappearance from the news network: Here is what they said

Arnab Goswami was last seen on May 2 during a discussion on West Bengal assembly polls. He will make a return on Monday.

Pakistani audience go ballistic over Zee5 web series featuring Muslim girl-Indian Hindu boy love story, call it ‘haram’

The Pakistani web series features the love story between a Pakistani Muslim girl and Indian Hindu boy who have both lost their fathers to the conflict between the two nations.

‘Muslims must kill 4-6 persons before dying’: Congress’ new minority cell head Imran Pratapgarhi and his hate-filled ‘shayari’. Details

The newly appointed Congress minority cell head Imran Pratapgarhi is believed to be the favourite of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Dhruv Rathee fans mark YouTuber Karolina Goswami for targeted harassment after she exposed his lies

After Karolina Goswami pointed out the factual errors and mistakes in the Dhruv Rathee video, Rathee's supporters have been harassing and abusing Goswami.

AAP celebrates Delhi’s new architectural marvel, the Moti Nagar speed breaker

AAP's Moti Nagar MLA has recently inaugurated a speed breaker, along with dozens of supporters flouting social distancing norms.

TISS research paper calls Kashmir ‘India occupied’, blames Indian Army for domestic violence in Kashmiri society

A dissertation paper by a student at TISS-Hyderabad has come under the scanner for calling Kashmir "India occupied Kashmir".
- Advertisement -


Connect with us