In the Clubhouse audio app, Saudis discussed alcohol legalization and abortion. Egyptians debated what it would take to challenge an authoritarian ruler. Iranians have planted their suspicions about government officials and spread stories of sexual harassment, according to reports The New York Times.
In this way, the app offers a new forum for discussion and conversation for users in authoritarian and repressive regimes. Clubhouse has been downloaded 1.1 million times in the Middle East since it became available in January.
Masri Tharwat Abaza told the New York Times that people have been waiting for such a way to communicate for a long time.
“At this time, it is one of the most accessible platforms, and it gives us space for important discussions that we should have without fear of a witch hunt,” he tells the newspaper.
However, resorting to the app is not without risk. It is easy to identify the users and it is easy for the public security agencies to listen to the conversations. It can also be dangerous for authoritarian regimes to get hold of the personal data the app stores.
But with so many conversations taking place in real time, it can be more difficult to monitor them compared to a text-based platform like Facebook.
Several countries in the Middle East have previously censored or blocked other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It is feared that this will also happen with the Clubhouse.
Oman has already banned the app. Users in Iran, Jordan, and the UAE have reported difficulties accessing the app. He fears more government control when running the app on Android.
“Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff.”