Loud debates, fun banter: Mideast finds outlet in Clubhouse

BEIRUT (AP) — The audio chat app Clubhouse has quickly surged into popularity in the Middle East. It gives a space for everything from venting against longtime rulers and debating sensitive issues to arguing over where to find the best and cheapest shawarma sandwich in an economic crisis. More than 970,000 people across the region have downloaded the app since it launched there in January, and Saudi Arabia has the 7th highest number of downloads in the world. But already there are fears that authoritarian governments are listening in on the frank and open conversations and that they could use it to crack down on critics as they have other social media.