In China, the Clubhouse was used to circumvent censorship while it persisted

in the last days Club HouseThe social network where you talk directly instead of writing short messages or sharing pictures, She became very popular Among Chinese users, who used it to discuss controversial issues that were impossible to deal with on other social networks, due to the Chinese regime’s censorship. However, many users reported Monday afternoon that they can no longer access the app, which may have been blocked by the Chinese government.

Although it is not available on the Chinese Apple App Store, like many Western developer apps banned by the government (such as Facebook and Google), Chinese users have been able to download it simply by changing the country in which they arrived at the App Store, and then using it normally. . Clubhouse also did not need a private network (VPN) to bypass Great Firewall, the system that prevents Chinese citizens from accessing unauthorized sites from the government, unlike other Western social networks.

The popularity of the last few days is due to the fact that, unlike other social networks, in Clubhouse there are no traces of what we are talking about, because it is kind of forum, But oral instead of writing. In the Clubhouse app, which launched in the US last March but has only started gaining global popularity in the past few weeks – also thanks to the membership of several celebrities, such as Elon Musk, president of Tesla and SpaceX – we’re talking about it. NeighborhoodA symbolic show of hands is required. The Clubhouse is designed to talk about any topic not just with people you know, but with anyone, or even to hear others talk about something.

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Also read: How the club works

Therefore, many Chinese users have opened “rooms” to speak freely about controversial topics, such as China’s relations with Taiwan, protests for democracy in Hong Kong, and the persecution of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority living in Xinjiang. Several journalists and tech experts have discovered different “rooms” in which Chinese users have spoken about these issues: guardian He recounted how some analysts heard conversations in which they spoke in a “very sincere” manner about the Uyghur internment camps, which the Chinese government has always denied and which in fact is prohibited to speak in the country.

Last week it became a club One of the most discussed topics on Weibo, The most popular social network in China, and the hashtag to request an invitation code to the app – which you can only subscribe to if someone else invites you – has ranked among the trendiest. Reuters Wrote Moreover, on Chinese e-commerce sites, several ads appeared selling invitations to the app at prices ranging from 50 to 400 yuan (6 to 50 euros approximately).

China-born American journalist Melissa Chan tweeted that all these discussions about Chinese users made her feel like she was suddenly “indulging in free speech.”

Also read: The “demographic genocide” of the Uyghurs

But the Chinese nationalists who championed the regime soon came to application: in a “room” with more than 4,000 participants titled “Do Internment Camps Exist in Xinjiang?” Some Han Chinese (the main Chinese ethnic group) denied suppressing the Uyghurs, while some Uyghur users (possibly with connections from foreign countries) attempted to answer, without much success.

While it is true that many Chinese users have used Clubhouse these days, it is not certain that they all came from China: most likely, the reporter writes James GriffithsThey are Chinese dissidents in other countries, trying to establish channels for discussion of censored issues in China, hoping to engage the people who live there.

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Also read: In Hong Kong, schools will be increasingly pro-China

There was also a lot of talk about an issue that could have frightened Chinese club users: The social network appears to be using a software package for internet calls developed by a Chinese company, right Now. The news was provided by some sources familiar with the facts at South China Morning NewspaperBut neither Club House nor Agora confirmed it. Some fear that the Chinese government has asked Agora to keep user data for national security reasons, as many internet platforms have suspected.

Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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