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(Image: Adobe)

As the Trump administration actively pursues the "splinternet", Australia is being wedged (again) between its geography and its politics. In the real world, Australia will be where it’s always been. But in the virtual world, it risks being moored somewhere off the coast of California.

The "splinternet" is essentially the regional and national fragmentation of the once global, open internet. The US is pushing for a “clean” internet that excludes Chinese apps and infrastructure like TikTok and WeChat.

About 1.6 million Australians (mainly female, mainly young) use TikTok, and approximately 1.5 million use WeChat (it’s all but ubiquitous in the Chinese diaspora). During the 2019 federal election, both major parties advertised on WeChat to reach Chinese-Australian voters.