Clubhouse promises to bring freedom of expression to Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia. Can they deliver?

A useful comparison can be found in Yalla, another voice chat app that sums up all the complications of tech-driven globalization. Led by Chinese executives and engineers, headquartered in Dubai, publicly negotiated on the New York Stock Exchange, with Arabic its most popular language, Yalla has enjoyed phenomenal success in the Middle East. But it is strictly monitored, constantly observed by 200 potential censors. “The basic rule of the platform is known as ‘PRP’: no ​​politics, no religion, no porn”, according to at the Financial Times. “The reason everyone can get along harmoniously is because we are not talking about [certain things]Said the CEO of the company.

When it comes to Clubhouse, users are starting to understand that while anything can happen at the moment, the platform is likely under scrutiny. Regime outlets in some countries have aired TV segments warning of the dangers of the app, and the mere presence of senior government officials on Clubhouse is proof enough that some powerful people are watching.

Azal, who founded Women’s Safety Net, or WSN, is concerned about the Clubhouse being co-opted by regional governments for their own purposes. While giving some Clubhouse rooms the place for heated discussion, others, she says, exhibit the full range of misogyny, bigotry and abuse that seems endemic to online spaces. “Personally, as the founder of WSN, I contacted Clubhouse and offered to help provide safety and security solutions for Arabic-speaking venues, but received no response from anyone”, said Azal The new republic.

Azal shared data which she said showed officials from Gulf Cooperation Council states – such as Saudi Arabia, which is in the midst of a disastrous military intervention in Yemen – moderating venues and disseminating pro-propaganda. diet. Some of the moderators, according to his team’s research, worked for state security services. “We have already received cases of some people detained by officials [for things they said on Clubhouse]. It’s catastrophic, Jacob, I must say.

About Richard Chandler

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