Oman has blocked the American audio app Clubhouse. The reason given was that it did not have the right permit.
According to Reuters, the Omani Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has said that the application was blocked due to a “lack of proper authorisation”. However, some activists have described the move as a further erosion of freedom of expression in Oman.
Launched in early 2020, Clubhouse describes itself as a new type of social network based on voice – where people around the world come together to talk, listen and learn from each other in real time.
The app got some free publicity just over a month ago when Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev held a surprise discussion on the platform.
The app has reportedly been popular in Arab countries where there tends to be tight control on media. However, there are no opportunities to use it in China; access to Clubhouse in China was blocked last month.
Some reports suggest the platform has had problems enforcing its rules against racism, hate speech, abuse and false information. Clubhouse has said it is investing in tools to detect and prevent abuse as well as features for users, who can set rules for their rooms, to moderate conversations.
It’s not yet clear whether Oman will lift what is effectively a ban. However, what is clear is that some countries are unsure how to respond to the still-developing forms of self-expression introduced by social media, although there are already numerous examples of state intervention.