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The video item below is a piece of English language content from Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is a Qatari state-funded broadcaster based in Doha, Qatar, owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network.
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Al Jazeera English published this video item, entitled “👋 Is Clubhouse a free speech haven? | The Stream” – below is their description.
The creators of Clubhouse are set to release the audio-based social app to Android mobile users, a key part of their plan to expand the platform’s reach.
But while the app has for months provided members an opportunity to have spontaneous and illuminating conversations on topics ranging from aviation to zoology, some governments are keeping a close eye on how delicate domestic political and social issues are being discussed within the platform’s chat rooms.
Clubhouse caused a stir upon its launch in March 2020 and its user base has since expanded to more than 10 million people worldwide. While many conversations focus on hobbies and light-hearted topics, the app has also given people a chance to debate and argue on sensitive political and social matters – an opportunity seldom permitted in some countries.
Some countries have blocked the app. Authorities in China banned Clubhouse in early February after users across the country discussed topics such as the experiences of Uighur communities in Xinjiang, tensions between China and Taiwan, and China’s policy on Hong Kong.
But the recent experience of users is Iran is somewhat different. While social media apps such as Twitter are blocked there, Clubhouse members in Iran have used the app to speak candidly about politics in the run-up to the country’s presidential election on June 18. Former Iranian vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi says Clubhouse users are “practicing democracy in real time.”
Yet digital rights advocates say Clubhouse could do more to ensure users’ security and privacy are upheld.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at how Clubhouse has given people a rare chance to speak freely in countries with repressive laws on speech, and whether Clubhouse can strike a balance between protecting its users while maintaining the open discussion that makes it special.
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Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR), is a metropolitan area and special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea. With over 7.5 million residents of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world.
Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898. The whole territory was transferred to China in 1997. As a special administrative region, Hong Kong maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
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The country’s rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Historically a multi-ethnic country, Iran remains a pluralistic society comprising numerous ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups, the largest being Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Mazandaranis and Lurs.
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The Uyghurs, alternately Uygurs, Uighurs or Uigurs, are a Turkic-speaking minority ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. The Uyghurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. (Source Wikipedia).
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Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China, is a vast region of deserts and mountains. It’s home to many ethnic minority groups, including the Turkic Uyghur people. The ancient Silk Road trade route linking China and the Middle East passed through Xinjiang, a legacy that can be seen in the traditional open-air bazaars of its oasis cities, Hotan and Kashgar.