Politico Owner Mathias Döpfner Calls for Ban on TikTok ‘in Every Democracy’

The Axel Springer CEO says TikTok is a threat to democracy

Mathias Doepfner
Photo by Alex Gora – Pool/Getty Images

Politico owner Mathias Döpfner called for a ban of Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok on Tuesday, saying the popular social platform was a long-term threat to democracy.

“TikTok should be banned in every democracy,” the CEO of Axel Springer – which owns Politico, Morning Brew and Business Insider – said at Vox Media’s Code Conference in Los Angeles, calling Western governments who allow the app “naive and dangerous.”

“TikTok should be banned in every country,” he repeated, in his Q and A with journalist Kara Swisher and professor Scott Galloway. “We have at the moment a naïveté with dealing with China…. We hand over personal data to the Chinese government.” He added: “It is of course a tool of espionage.”

Döpfner said that the fact that the short-form video app is owned by China and gathers personal data on millions of its young users is a long-term threat.

The Trump administration sought to force the sale of TikTok in 2020, but the sale never occurred. The Biden administration has taken a less confrontational approach with the app, but many new reports indicate that the private data of TikTok users is stored in China and not in the United States.

The sale proposal emerged after Trump signed an executive order in 2020 banning TikTok unless it offloaded its U.S. operations, citing national security concerns tied to the app’s data collection policies and close ties to China’s communist government. TikTok, in response, said it never shares user data with government officials.

The app has more than 1 billion users and its ad revenue is projected to triple from $3.88 billion in 2021 to $11.64 billion this year. It is expected to surpass the revenue of Twitter, at $5.58 billion, and Snap, at $4.86 billion, combined.