China bans invite-only Clubhouse app as locals use it to discuss sensitive issues

WION Web Team
Beijing, ChinaUpdated: Feb 08, 2021, 08:46 PM IST

Representative image Photograph:(AFP)

Story highlights

On Monday the Clubhouse app started showing an error message to the users without a VPN which asked the users to establish a secure connection

China has finally blocked access to a rare social interaction app, Clubhouse, after many locals started using it to discuss topics, including things the government does not approve.

Clubhouse is a rare app that allows users to converse with each other but only through audio. This app is also not available to everyone. People can gain access to this app only through an invite from an existing user. The existing user can, however, send this invite-only to two people.

After Tesla and SpaceX owner Elon Musk and Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev started using the app, it gained popularity all over the world, especially China where locals started flocking to this audio-only chat app to discuss several taboo topics, including mistreatment of the Uighur Muslims in China.

In this app, people can listen to several discussions and interviews about several things by people and experts and then exit the chat room once the discussion ends.

China has a bad reputation when it comes to allowing its citizens to freely discuss matters, and has thus banned social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in the country. 

The invite-only Clubhouse app had till now been able to side-step from the country's censorship and had not fallen under the infamous "Great Firewall". 

However, with its rising popularity and discussions of matters such as Beijing's sweeping incarceration of mostly Muslim minority Uighur communities in the far western Xinjiang region led to the app being scanned by the Chinese authorities.

Now, on Monday, the app started showing an error message to the users without a VPN which asked the users to establish a secure connection.

This was quickly observed by the Chinese users which led to discussion rooms getting abuzz about the security implications of staying on the app and the possible penalties they could face if caught on the app.

"I saw many rooms chatting cross-Straits issues and sensitive issues... and thought this app wouldn't last too long," a user was quoted by AFP.

"What comes after the block is compiling the list of people on the platform," another user shared worriedly.