Fear of surveillance after the Clubhouse app dominates Saudi Arabia

Invitation-only apps banned by Chinese censorship are gaining momentum in parts of the Gulf, causing bold conversations in countries known to limit freedom of speech.

The most provocative seems to be happening in a chat room focused on Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, nationalist vandalism and government crackdowns on online critics have significantly curbed discussions on other platforms.

This is the popularity of the app, where some Kingdom users are proposing to sell Clubhouse invitations on Twitter, emphasizing a suppressed desire for debate and debate, despite fears of surveillance. I am.

“Clubhouses are thriving because there are many Saudi intellectuals interested in discussing multiple topics that could be considered taboo or censored in the public sphere.” Amani al-Ahmadhi, a Saudi-American activist based in the United States, told AFP.

However, after Ahmadhi recently hosted a chat on “racism in Saudi Arabia,” Twitter was flooded with screenshots and videos revealing participants’ identities and opinions, as well as conspiracy theories about their motives.

This tactic, which caused fear that app users might be being monitored, showed a violation of the rules set by Clubhouse, which prohibits recording conversations.

A similar clubhouse room created to discuss the recent release of prison activist Lujain al-Hasruul threatened to expose them to the public, according to session sources. After that, it had to be closed.

“I see Saudi Arabian trolls bringing clubhouse conversations to Twitter by recording people and hashtagging them,” said Ahmadi.

“This is still a new platform and there are many security concerns.”

Clubhouse did not respond to AFP’s request for comment on the reported violation.

――’Free thinking’ ――

The condition that many are “I’m in the kingdom” or “I’m in a sensitive place” as a sign that some people may already be self-censoring on the platform The discussion will begin at, a Saudi Arabian user of the app told AFP.

However, despite the risks, many Saudis participate in bohemian debates, mostly captivating the zeitgeist of the young population.

In a chat room, a Saudi woman lamented the lack of civil liberties in absolute monarchy.

According to participants, “thinking freely comes at a great cost and can cost you your life and send you to jail,” she said.

“We are not barn animals … the right to think and protest like any other country. This is the simplest right of a citizen.”

In another example, Saudi Arabia praised the new employment opportunities for women in the kingdom, but said they cost enormous amounts of money.

“We are now on the road to equality,” she said.

“But many Saudi men are outraged and ask,” Why do women have more job opportunities than I do? “

In another example, a transgender woman in the kingdom shared her chilling experience of being publicly groped and harassed.

-‘Fill the void’-

Such unrestrained conversations have sparked fierce calls for state regulation from government supporters.

“The pain that the debate can create can harm society as a whole without organizational or ethical constraints,” Salman al-Dossary said in a Saudi newspaper column, “Clubhouse Moral.” I wrote in “The Dilemma”.

In an online video, Saudi scholar Fahd Al Otaibi even says that clubhouses pose a risk to the kingdom’s national security.

There was no official comment from the Saudi authorities.

Saudi app users say it’s only a matter of time before parental trolls claim control of platform activity, as they do with Twitter.

Government-backed cyber forces are invading Twitter, threatening kingdom critics, distorting online stories, and at the same time using a platform to drive ambitious government reforms.

In recent years, political critics have been imprisoned for tweets, emphasizing that social media has become a weapon of authoritarian domination, campaign officials said.

“Clubhouses are now filling a big gap. The popularity of the Gulf shows that people are waiting for a new way to express their opinions, explore ideas and discuss freely without censorship. “Masu,” said the Kawaakibi Foundation, a group of Middle Eastern activists.

“I’m worried that the Saudi government will crack down on banning apps, like Twitter in recent years, or arrest people for exercising their right to free speech by monitoring rooms,” Gatnash said. Told AFP.

str-ac / sls / fz / oho

This story was published from a news agency feed without changing the text.

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Fear of surveillance after the Clubhouse app dominates Saudi Arabia

Source link Fear of surveillance after the Clubhouse app dominates Saudi Arabia

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