AEC investigating popular union TikTok accounts skirting transparency rules ahead of federal election

Several Australian popular union-linked TikTok accounts targeting young voters with anti-government content have not abided by electoral transparency rules around political messaging, an ABC investigation has found. 

The ABC has identified three union accounts that failed to publish proper mandatory authorisations, as required by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), which governs how political messaging is presented to voters.

One union also paid an influencer to produce anti-Liberal content, who also posted it on their own account, highlighting the limitations of TikTok’s own political advertising rules.

The popular app has become one of the latest battlegrounds ahead of an increasingly tight federal election campaign.

While TikTok says it “isn’t the go-to app for breaking news or politics”, hashtags for #auspol #Albo4PM and #auselection2022 have clocked upwards of 440 million views.

Three union-affiliated accounts identified by the ABC regularly criticise the Liberal Party and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in video explainers, memes and music remixes of the government’s gaffes.

Some videos explicitly encourage their viewers to vote Mr Morrison out.

The @GenUnited TikTok account added a full authorisation on its bio after being contacted by the ABC.(TikTok: @GenUnited)

The AEC does not require all unions to put authorisations on their political videos, but all material with “the dominant purpose of influencing the way electors vote” is required to have one. 

Explicit authorisations are visible on the official websites for the three unions and other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram but, until contacted by the ABC, not on any of their TikTok videos.

Hoping to target young voters through these videos is Melbourne-based United Workers Union (UWU), which launched its @GenUnited account in early 2022.

@GenUnited has accumulated more than 500,000 likes and 15,000 followers since the beginning of the year.

Despite the account trying to influence voters, the authorisation statement on its bio only read “uwu”.

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Written by Politixia

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