TikTok has announced that it has 8.5 million monthly active users in Australia, in the short video platform’s first disclosure of its user numbers in the country. The platform, owned by Beijing-based tech firm ByteDance, also said TikTok is being utilized by 350,000 businesses as a marketing tool to reach and engage new clients in Australia.
Why it matters: The figure suggests that more than 30% of the Australian population is using TikTok. Australia banned TikTok on government-issued devices in April.
Details: Australia joined more than 10 countries (including the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, France, Denmark, and India) in banning the use of the ByteDance-owned short video platform on government devices in April.
- Australia’s Attorney-General’s Department said in April that TikTok poses “significant security and privacy risks to non-corporate Commonwealth entities” due to its extensive collection of user data.
- Lee Hunter, TikTok’s Australia and New Zealand general manager, said the company was “extremely disappointed” by the government-level ban, attributing the decision to “politics” instead of facts.
- TikTok set up an Australian branch office in mid-2020 when the video-sharing platform experienced massive user growth in overseas markets.
- TikTok announced it had 150 million monthly active users in the US three days before a congressional hearing in the country attended by TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew on March 23, in an attempt to emphasize the platform’s wide reach across the US and counter a potential nationwide ban.
Context: TikTok has long been questioned by Western countries on whether it shares users’ data with the Chinese government.
- Over half of US states have announced bans on using TikTok on official devices. Montana authorities have announced their intention to begin blocking all residents from accessing the platform from January 2024. TikTok filed a lawsuit against the Montana government shortly after the bill passed in May.
- TikTok is also under scrutiny in Vietnam. The country’s Ministry of Information and Communications stated on Monday that it is holding probes into allegations of illegal and irregular activities by TikTok, and is expected to make a public announcement in July upon completion of the official investigation.
- The Vietnamese government frequently requests social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok remove content it considers illegal, and regularly reports on the number of links or videos removed by each platform. In April, the information ministry said that TikTok may face a ban in the country if it fails to comply with instructions to remove content it deems to be in violation of its rules, according to local media outlet VnExpress.