👋 Is Clubhouse a free speech haven? | The Stream

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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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