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Poynter wonders why fact-checkers don’t follow China’s lead and tackle Clubhouse

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Internet censorship similar to that imposed by the Chinese government has long been used as a pejorative, particularly as a way to stress a government’s authoritarian nature.

But the time may have come to normalize this type of authoritarian censorship, at least if you ask Poynter, a hub for online “fact-checking,” that now appears to be openly endorsing and promoting China-style control of information.

“If Xi Jinping’s administration isn’t ignoring Clubhouse, why should fact-checkers? Why should you?,” a write-up on the organization’s website shockingly said.

Clubhouse is a new, invitation-only audio social network that has lately been getting a lot of scrutiny from legacy corporate media, mostly on account that it’s hard for them to police it. The reference to Chinese President Xi’s administration has to do with Chinese censors recently “moving in” to disrupt dialogue between users in mainland China and those outside it taking place on the platform.

Poynter tries to build a case of why it would be a good idea to take a leaf out of Xi’s and Chinese censors’ book here and not “ignore” Clubhouse or exempt it from “fact-checking,” by explaining what content can be found on the app, and how it works.

The author of the article said they were able to join Clubhouse this week because they knew “the right people” – and immediately started roaming audio chat rooms in search of “misinformation.”

Several attempts followed to find anything controversial by “fact-checker” standards (such as dissenting views on Covid, or mentions of Donald Trump). The search was apparently in vein – no evidence of something in dire need of getting flagged and censored had been unearthed.

But that’s not to say Clubhouse should be ignored, Poynter continued, this time citing recent reports in mainstream media also trying to put the app under the microscope.

Another website, GritDaily, complained that the app doesn’t harvest data in the form of old audio files, or let users record audio streams.

That means “fact-checkers” will have to spend “hours and hours” listening to conversations if they hope to catch somebody “saying anything controversial at all.”

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