In the absence of ideas, the candidate of Progressive Social Networks (RSP) for the governor of San Luis Potosí, José Luis Romero Calzada, decides to record himself doing a striptease to win votes. From the same party, but competing for a federal deputation, the actor Alfredo Adame gives motherly mentions to whoever asks for it. There are those who fight against Goku, the protagonist of the famous anime Dragon Ball, recreate movie scenes, pose with famous fictional characters, or dance to the rhythm of lambada, cumbia, merengue, salsa, or any other that captures the attention of the ‘younger’ voters. . Everything happens on Tik Tok.
The fashionable social network among young people is no stranger to politics, and candidates in the current electoral process know that its use is essential to reach the so-called generation Z.
In the elections of this June 6, 25.6 million young people between 18 and 29 years old will be able to participate, 27 percent of the nominal list, and it is precisely the segment in which Tik Tok has the most influence. The short video app already surpasses Facebook and Instagram in the taste of young Mexicans and has established itself as the number one social network in this sector of the population.
As of March 2021, Tik Tok had 22.7 million unique users, the majority under the age of 30.
Because of its reach and penetration among young voters, campaigns also take place on this social network. However, the potential offered by the platform ends up wasted to give way to banal content that verges on the ridiculous.
For Fernando Dworak, analyst and teacher at the University of Hull, United Kingdom, it is unfortunate that in the country, either because of novelty or because the candidates are only looking to keep track of their parties, ‘instead of competing, they try to use Tik Tok as a means to present funny scenes, to dance or to make any occurrence’.
Although he considers that it is not a bad thing that Tik Tok is used in politics, he warns that the problem is how it is used. ‘If you do not know what it is for and you do not reach the public that understands these messages, what you have is banality. It’s like the 60-year-old guy who wants to act young, it turns out he’s not authentic and he’s not credible.’
For this reason, he underlines that in this social network ‘the political message is being reduced, when it could be very powerful with this type of format, in small highly banal segments’.
For the professor and communicator of the Ibero-American University, Mario Campos, not only Tik Tok, but social networks in general, allow candidates to do two things. First, talk about very local issues that the media will hardly be interested in, and second, interact with audiences. However, ‘neither case is happening at the moment.’
The central problem, Campos mentions, is the lack of relevant content in public terms.
‘Someone dancing to call for the vote can sometimes be witty or funny at times, but the question is: what does it contribute in terms of the public conversation? What elements do you give the electorate to be able to make a better-informed decision? How can someone’s dance be a factor that helps to decide whether it is a good or bad proposal to support that person? ‘, He reflects.
Campos does not want to demonize the digital tools used by politicians, but he does consider it pertinent to question whether their use, beyond giving visibility to an applicant, generates any kind of value in the relationship with citizens. ‘That’s where I think, at least as far as I have seen, is not the case.’
Edgar Rodríguez, head of the Public Policies department of Tik Tok, assures that his social network ‘is not the reference platform for debates and news of a political nature.’ Although he does not reveal how politicians use his accounts, he affirms that they are supporting his community to provide access to official and verified information, and they collaborate with the INE to have information on how and when to vote on Tik Tok.
They dance, they act, they undress. The list of controversial candidates trying to take advantage of the Tik Tok boom to attract the attention of young voters is vast and of all political forces. Although they become known more for cartoony or banal acts than for their projects or ideas.
An example is the candidate for the governor of San Luis Potosí by RSP, Luis Romero Calzada, who strips naked in his videos to attract attention. There is also Alfredo Adame, candidate for federal deputy for that same party, who ‘gives away’ motherly mentions.
The PAN is another of the political institutes whose politicians seek to position themselves using Tik Tok, although also with unfortunate results.
There is the case of Yolanda Cantú, candidate for mayor of Monterrey, who tries to dance with difficulty while walking the streets of her city, which earned her the ridicule of users. His party partner, Lucio Váquez, a candidate for trustee of Camargo, Chihuahua, also caused a stir by trying to dance to the rhythm of lambada.
Beyond provoking reflection in voters, the videos of politicians tiktokers generate mockery and memes, such as the now-classic ‘imagine living in Switzerland and missing this.’