Clubhouse Banned In China Over Uncensored Content — Report

The Clubhouse icon. Photo Credit: William Krause

Audio-driven social platform Clubhouse, which counts many well-known members of the rap community as users, has reportedly been banned in China due to uncensored content.

Multiple Clubhouse users have detailed the reported ban on Twitter, but at the time of publishing, the quick-rising app’s founders hadn’t commented publicly on the matter. Worth noting is that Clubhouse is currently available solely on iOS devices, with an Android version in the works, and hasn’t been listed on China’s App Store. Consequently, users in the Chinese mainland had to utilize a VPN to access the English-language edition of the platform, which debuted in April of 2020.

Clubhouse began to pick up steam in China earlier this month, according to firsthand accounts, and one source indicated on February 2nd that invitations to join the exclusive platform were fetching approximately $54 apiece (CNY¥350) on Alibaba. (Stateside, Clubhouse invite codes are selling for about $20 each on Ebay – an especially noteworthy sum, given that the service’s owners previously said that the app boasts north of two million weekly users.)

Discussions between China residents (and others who speak Mandarin, regardless of location, many have stated of the large chatrooms) quickly turned to subjects including the “deep anger that the Communist Party has done this to us. That what should be a normal conversation is like tasting forbidden fruit.”

Another social-media user said that he “listened not only to photographers talk about color calibration and developing film” during his week on Clubhouse, but also heard “folks from hk [Hong Kong], china and tw [Taiwan] discuss sensitive topics such as the uyghur concentration camps, tiananmen and the hk protests.

“There was also the moment where a uyghur speaker appealed to the room for a china that would be inclusive and diverse. when she finished speaking, the room was silent for a bit, and then started clapping,” the same individual relayed in a subsequent tweet.

Early this morning (but at about 7:30 PM local time), several persons noted that Clubhouse had been blocked in mainland China. Moreover, a screenshot revealed that Chinese users receive a brief error message – “An SSL error has occurred and a secure connection to the server cannot be made.” – upon attempting to launch the app.

It’s unclear how the reported ban in mainland China will affect the growth trajectory of Clubhouse, which formally announced the completion of its Series B funding round late last month. Additionally, the takedown arrives about five weeks after Apple removed 39,000 apps from its App Store in China and the Indian government made permanent its ban of 58 apps with Chinese ties, including the controversial TikTok.