In the wake of new users of audio-only social media Clubhouse from China, the app appeared to have been knocked offline by the government.
As the BBC reported, last Monday, thousands of users from mainland China have reported the app offline. Some users spotted a message saying that "An SSL error has occurred and a secure connection to the server cannot be made" while opening the app.
In another report from CNBC, Shanghai-based tech analyst Michael Norris echoed what multiple media reports revealed. Norris believed that it was about time the Chinese regulators force their ban on Clubhouse, several weeks after the app saw a mass exodus of users from the country.
Clubhouse was the only iOS-supported social media in China that could be accessed without virtual private network (VPN) third-party app assistance, at least until its shutdown. Many users from the country opted for the app for its invite-only nature that creates exclusivity. The app is the only safe place where they can discuss matters that are considered taboo, such as the Hong Kong protests or the government mistreatment of Uighur minorities.
Alpha Exploration launched Clubhouse in May 2020. As the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 batters every corner of the world, most people are forced to work and study from home, making Clubhouse a popular go-to app in such a desperate time.
Up to this writing, as noted by Software Pundit, Clubhouse's valuation is worth up to $1 billion, after being worth "only" $100 million by the time of its launch. The app has six million registered users by this month and two million weekly active users.
The app lets its users jump into an audio-only chat in a private or public room with no track of conversation recorded. Many functions on this app are similar to the microblogging site Twitter. You can only join the app from an invitation. Once invited, users can select a handle and set up a profile.
The app is immensely popular among Silicon Valley A-list technophiles, with endorsements from the likes of Tesla boss Elon Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It's also popular among celebrities and DJs who want to build their audiences. Tiffany Haddish and Jared Leto are among the laundry-list of Hollywood celebs to join the app.
The Chinese government's legislative actions have taken the country's democratic progress into peril. Many popular social media apps and knowledge platforms, including Facebook and Google, have been banned from the country over its paranoia that the internet has spread opposition to their one-party rule.
According to State Council Order number 292 in 2002, which was regarded by many as the country's first venture in censoring speech, Chinese-based websites were not allowed to link overseas news portal without approval from the authority. Non-licensed websites, however, faced the worst consequence as they weren't allowed to publish any content besides what's already been published by other media.