European politicians navigate TikTok’s rise amid security concerns

Politicians recognize TikTok’s potency, particularly among youth, amidst declining influence of traditional media. Leaders such as Macron, Lauterbach, and Ireland’s Simon Harris are capitalizing on TikTok’s reach to engage with younger demographics.

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With European elections looming, mainstream politicians recognise the need to connect with voters on TikTok, a platform that fringe parties have effectively utilised. However, TikTok’s ties to China have raised red flags among security agencies in Germany and the United States, leading to calls for regulation or a ban.

Despite assurances from TikTok, scepticism remains high. Figures like Macron and Lauterbach are leveraging TikTok’s reach to connect with younger demographics alongside Simon Harris, Ireland’s prime minister-in-waiting. The rise of far-right parties on TikTok pressures politicians to engage without endorsing its authoritarian links.

Despite security concerns, politicians acknowledge TikTok’s effectiveness, especially in reaching beyond traditional media to shape political discourse among youth. According to a recent report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, fewer individuals rely on conventional media, while more are embracing TikTok as a news source.

Why does it matter?

Several nations have prohibited TikTok usage among government officials, yet its escalating significance as a news outlet, especially among younger demographics, demands scrutiny. Reuters’ findings revealed that TikTok experienced the most rapid growth among social networks, with 20% of individuals aged 18 to 24 utilising it for news consumption. Consequently, politicians in the UK and Belgium are strategically navigating around these constraints by using separate devices for TikTok, thereby securing their presence on the platform.