‘PM_Scomo’ joins TikTok despite previous criticism of controversial Chinese-owned platform | #socialmedia

He’s been an accidental star of TikTok for months and now Scott Morrison has joined the controversial Chinese-owned social media platform, uploading a selfie video with family pet dog Buddy for his debut message.

Last year, the Prime Minister criticised the video-sharing app, which is wildly popular with younger audiences, warning Australians it “connects right back to China”.

During 2020, the federal government directed intelligence agencies to investigate whether TikTok, which harvests vast amounts of data, posed a security threat to Australia.

Analysts have long warned that ByteDance, the Chinese company which owns TikTok, may be forced to share information it gathers on users with authorities in Beijing, and former president Donald Trump attempted to ban the platform. 

“We’ll obviously keep watching them, but there’s no evidence to suggest to us today that [a ban] is a step that is necessary,” Mr Morrison declared back in August last year. 

In October, a TikTok executive appearing before a US congressional hearing declared the globally popular video-sharing app did not give information to the Chinese government and had sought to safeguard American data.

Last year, Scott Morrison also fired off an impassioned attack on TikTok after a man’s videoed suicide was seen by children using the platform.

“Social media has become, like it or not, part of our modern life,” Scott Morrison said in a September 2020 video message.

“It gives us a bit of a laugh, people doing silly dances. Sometimes, they are taking the mickey out of me.

“But there is a serious concern and a serious side with what happens with social media and we saw that with that disgraceful video that was uploaded onto TikTok.”

@pm_scomo on Tiktok

Despite his previous criticisms, the Prime Minister opened his own official TikTok account on Christmas Eve with the handle “pm_scomo” and has so far uploaded two video messages for the festive season.

Scott Morrison took to Tiktok to wish Australians a Merry Christmas. (Supplied: Tiktok )

“G’day TikTok, Merry Christmas from me and Bud and all of our family here to you and all of yours,” Mr Morrison says in his first appearance while holding his pet in a 14-second video set to a Jingle Bells soundtrack.

“Stay safe, think of those obviously doing it a bit tough, Buddy’s going off to wrap some presents, I’ll catch you later”.

Comments are turned off for Mr Morrison’s account. 

With a federal election due in the first half of next year, TikTok is seen as increasingly important to political leaders as a way of reaching and communicating with younger voters.

Last year as the coronavirus pandemic was unfolding, videos of Scott Morrison clashing with ABC Political Editor Andrew Probyn at a late-night press conference became viral hits on TikTok, generating hundreds of thousands of individual views. 

In a second video uploaded late on Christmas Day, the Prime Minister stands in front of a Christmas tree reflecting on the challenges of the COVID pandemic.

“Well, merry Christmas Australia, yeah, it’s been a tough year, there’s no doubt about that,” Mr Morrison observes.

He also praises Australians who have volunteered to work over the Christmas period before signing off “god bless”.

“Thank you so much for what you do — you’re the ones who make Australia such a wonderful place.”

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