European Politicians Are Using Tiktok For Communications, Security Concerns over Privacy Policy

When Simon Harris emerged as Ireland’s prime minister-in-waiting in March, he opted for an unconventional channel to connect with his audience: TikTok.

In a video adorned with ‘THANK YOU’ in vibrant yellow lettering, the soon-to-be youngest Taoiseach of Ireland shared his journey with his 95,000 followers, recounting his evolution from an “opinionated, moody teenager” perturbed by the lack of educational support for his autistic brother.

Harris, affectionately labeled the “TikTok Taoiseach,” stands among a group of forward-thinking European politicians who have embraced the Chinese-owned social media platform, weighing the necessity of reaching younger voters against security apprehensions.

European Politicians Get Together (Credits: Leonhard Feoger)

With European elections looming in June, mainstream politicians are cautious of conceding ground to fringe parties that have effectively leveraged TikTok’s concise video format.

However, TikTok faces mounting scrutiny in the West due to concerns that user data from the app, owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, could potentially be accessed by the Chinese government.

In the U.S., legislators advocate for the platform’s sale by its Chinese owner or its removal from app stores, while President Joe Biden has raised these concerns with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

TikTok rebuffs security warnings, asserting that it does not gather more data than other apps. In a bid to assuage concerns, it launched a data storage site for European users in Dublin last year and engaged a third-party security firm to monitor data flows.

Tiktok Logo (Credits: Dan Kitwood)

Harris, an early adopter, began producing TikTok videos in March 2021, ranging from a 60-second budget summary with a musical backdrop to footage of him brewing tea while watching football.

French President Emmanuel Macron, boasting 4 million followers since joining TikTok in 2020, also recognized the platform’s potential.

In Germany, the acceptance of TikTok by senior politicians is a recent phenomenon, with Health Minister Karl Lauterbach becoming the country’s first minister to open an account in March, advocating for political engagement on the platform.

Recognizing the urgency of reaching young voters, mainstream parties face competition from fringe parties dominating TikTok.

Tiktok logo (Credits: Lionel Bonaventure)

For instance, Germany’s AfD party has amassed 411,000 followers, while its top candidate, Maximilian Krah, boasts 41,000.

Amid security concerns, some politicians express reservations about TikTok’s use, despite acknowledging its effectiveness in reaching audiences.

Others guide restrictions by using the app on separate devices or with limited connectivity.

TikTok’s growing influence in shaping news is significant. It prompts politicians to engage with the platform to avoid ceding ground to extremist ideologies.

Josh Alba
Josh Alba
Josh Alba stands at the forefront of contemporary business journalism, his words weaving narratives that illuminate the intricate workings of the corporate world. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for uncovering the underlying stories behind financial trends, Josh has established himself as a trusted authority in business writing. Drawing from his wealth of experience and relentless pursuit of truth, Josh delivers insights that resonate with readers across industries.
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