The audio-only social network app Clubhouse on the iPhone has seen a massive increase in new users in the past week, including Chinese debating politics.
According to mobile analytics company Sensor Tower, the app had been downloaded 2.3 million times as of January 31.
The chat app is free, but is currently available by invitation only. However, Pay Chinese users up to $ 77 for invitations from e-commerce sites.
Clubhouse was launched in May and was valued at nearly $ 100 million, and the application allows users to join and participate in pop-up public or private voice chat rooms.
Conversations are not recorded, which in theory guarantees privacy, although some interviews with celebrities and influencers are secretly recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
The first users were mostly technology enthusiasts and investors in Silicon Valley, but the inviting nature of the app created exclusive appeal and saw a host of American celebrities join, including (Oprah Winfrey), (Ashton Kutcher) Ashton Kutcher and (Drake) Drake.
But app downloads have more than doubled in the past two weeks as well-known tech giants such as (Elon Musk) Elon Musk and (Mark Zuckerberg) join the Clubhouse to participate in interviews and talk shows.
After Musk tweeted that he was going to speak directly on the app, Clubhouse’s shares rose 117 percent on February 1.
Clubhouse is currently only available on iPhones, and can be accessed in China without using a VPN to bypass the Great Chinese Firewall.
While many chat rooms are either private or have been deleted, thousands of Chinese users over the weekend joined the Clubhouse chat rooms to discuss topics considered taboo in China, from the Hong Kong protests and the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang to the escalation of tensions between China and Taiwan.
Many Chinese users who watched the voice chats in the app’s chat rooms took to Twitter to discuss what they saw.
One user said on Twitter: He heard a conversation between the Uyghurs, journalists and the Chinese that was very sincere, while in another conversation, young people in China heard the latest updates from people in Hong Kong and expressed their sympathy.
And for Chinese users, perhaps the most important feature of the Clubhouse app is unsupervised communication between ordinary people, as chat rooms include fantastically candid comments.
However, it is unlikely that the Chinese government will continue to allow access to the Clubhouse for long.