Update > Zoom and Its Use in Politics

Zoom and Its Use in Politics


Zoom is a video conferencing software that allows users to communicate through audio and video from remote locations. Its general characteristics include video conferencing, recording, screen sharing, scheduling, and dynamic voice detection. Zoom also allows users to join meetings through web browsers or mobile apps, making it accessible across multiple devices.

Zoom and other video conferencing platforms gained enormous success during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of the world went to work from home. In 2023, Zoom has 470 000 business customers, but millions use Zoom for free. It has 300 million active users daily.

Zoom in Politics

Zoom has become a critical tool for politicians and policymakers worldwide, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Political campaigns, rallies, and meetings have moved online, enabling remote engagement with constituents and other stakeholders.

Zoom has been used for diplomatic talks and regional summits, as well as hosting parliamentary meetings for example in the UK and Canada. Additionally, politicians have utilized Zoom for virtual town halls and campaign meetings.

Sometimes it is easier to debate in Zoom than face-to-face. In research conducted in the United States, it was found that political discussions over Zoom helped conservatives and liberals understand each other better than face-to-face meetings. The experience for the participants was more positive than anticipated, and it is possible that such exchanges may help mitigate political polarization. This was especially true for private discussions. When there was audience present, the exchanges became more polarized and heated.[1]

Zoom in Myanmar

Zoom is the most popular video conference platform in Myanmar. More than one in ten people in Myanmar use Zoom at least monthly.[2]

Before the military seized power on 1st February 2021, people in Myanmar used Zoom much like the rest of the world: for schooling and for work. During the 2020 elections, Zoom was the most widely used platform for political meetings.

After the coup, all political groups have started using Zoom for political and private meetings.

Zoom Risks

The use of Zoom for sharing political content poses several risks, including potential violations of privacy and security, as well as the spread of misinformation and propaganda, like in all social media platforms. Zoom and other video platforms are also vulnerable against “deep fake” videos, where real-looking but fake videos of politicians or other personalities are created using artificial intelligence.

Additionally, there have been concerns about the app's ties to China and the potential for government surveillance. It has been suspected that Zoom’s data centers in China and its staff there are passing data to the Chinese authorities. The FBI in the US has accused China for interfering with video calls, when these included discussions of topics deemed unacceptable by China’s ruling party.[3]

In many countries, Zoom meetings have also been hacked, and users have reported unwanted and harassing content being broadcast in their Zoom meetings. In late 2022, activists hacked a Zoom meeting organized by the junta and started protesting with several slogans.[4]

Zoom Policies

Zoom has a set of policies to govern content and privacy on its platform. Political content is allowed, but all kinds of harassment, hate speech, terrorism, violence, and adult content is prohibited.

In Myanmar, the meeting videos are usually free of hate speech, but the comment sections of especially pro-democratic videos tend to get a lot of hateful comments, which happens also a lot in Facebook and TikTok.

In terms of privacy, Zoom has implemented several measures to protect user privacy, including optional end-to-end encryption for video and audio content, as well as data protection measures to safeguard user information.


[1]  Binnquist AL, Dolbier SY, Dieffenbach MC, Lieberman MD (2022) The Zoom solution: Promoting effective cross-ideological communication online. PLoS ONE 17(7): e0270355. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0270355

[2] Standard Insights: The Most Popular Social Media Platforms in Myanmar, https://standard-insights.com/blog/the-most-popular-social-media-platforms-in-myanmar/

[3] Washington Post: Federal prosecutors accuse Zoom executive of working with Chinese government to surveil users and suppress video calls, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/18/zoom-helped-china-surveillance/

[4] RFA: Minister of the Military Council, Daw Thant Khaing, was protested, https://www.rfa.org/burmese/news/sac-minister-protest-11252022105758.html