Officials in China on Monday moved to block the live hangout app Clubhouse in an apparent response to a rise of conversations on the platform about banned topics, including the country's treatment of Uighur Muslims and Taiwan.
Reports from multiple media outlets indicated that many users were disconnected mid-conversation Monday evening, receiving only an error code from the app. New users found themselves unable to join the platform after text messages with registration codes ceased arriving.
Users of the invite-only platform said that the ban came in response to a surge of use among mainland Chinese citizens, many of whom turned to Clubhouse rooms discussing topics forbidden on social media by China's government. The New York Times reported that some conversations on the platform in recent days included personal testimonials from Uighur Muslim residents of China's Xinjiang province who recounted their relatives' imprisonment by Chinese authorities.
“I had thought it might survive past the Lunar New Year,” one China-based journalist who did not give their name told The Wall Street Journal. “But the censors would be unprofessional if they don’t respond to chats about Xinjiang and Tiananmen.”
Launched last year, Clubhouse has fewer than 1 million users with those invited to join the app being allowed to invite one other person to join, creating a slow chain of new users. The app's popularity remains high in Silicon Valley, as many tech executives including Tesla's Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskInspiration4 and the quest to cure childhood cancer SpaceX all-civilian crew returns to Earth, successfully completing 3-day mission SpaceX sending first all-civilian crew into orbit MORE have joined.
The platform was not available on Apple's China app store and was, until recently, available to Chinese who used overseas Apple IDs to view other versions of the app store, according to CNBC.
The Hill has reached out to Clubhouse for comment.