Following seas of Chinese users flocking to download the invite-only social media application Clubhouse, the app was banned in mainland China on Feb. 8, around 7:30 p.m. local time. “An SSL error has occurred and a secure connection to the server cannot be made,” read the app’s loading page.
Due to the ban, the app cannot be registered with a Chinese mobile phone number. For those Chinese users who have already downloaded the app outside of the country’s Apple App Store, Clubhouse can only be accessed with a VPN.
Some speculated that the app was no longer accessible in China due to the discussions on off-limits topics in the country.
A netizen on Weibo shared her experience about Clubhouse. In her post, she said she had found a room where people from both mainland China and Taiwan engaged in an open and peaceful discussion about relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
“On major social media platforms, I’ve seen too many times that young people on both sides of the [Taiwan] Strait simply ignore each other’s views, staying in their own information cocoons, criticizing others’ opinions and even insulting them,” she wrote on Sunday.
“I stayed in this room for two hours today, and noticed that most of the people participating in the discussion were very rational and tolerant when discussing with others.” She further claimed that “differences in political positions should never override the relationship between people.”
However, some expressed strong opposition on the app. Another Weibo user said on Saturday that “All I hear about is those who don’t live in mainland China mock us for having limited news sources. Very biased.”
Clubhouse was brought into existence after Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk held a GameStop saga discussion on the app with Robinhood Chief Executive Vlad Tenev. Per TechCrunch, this discussion broke the app’s limit of 5,000 people in a single room for the first time.
Before the ban, the price for Clubhouse invitation codes on the “black market” was up to 300 yuan ($46). At the time of writing, you cannot find a single related product by searching “Clubhouse” on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao.