As the number of Thai nationals active on social media continues to surge, TikTok has emerged as a potent force for politicians seeking to sway public opinion and secure votes. In this article, we explore the growing impact of TikTok on Thai politics, delve into the remarkable success of the Move Forward party on the platform, and examine the broader ramifications of this social media phenomenon.
Recent data from datareportal.com reveals that an impressive 85.4% of Thais are connected to the internet, with 52.25 million individuals actively engaging on social media platforms. While Facebook remains Thailand’s most popular platform, TikTok is quickly gaining ground among the younger generation and increasingly influencing political discourse. The platform boasts 40.3 million users in Thailand, contributing to its more than a billion worldwide users.
Among the political parties tapping into TikTok for their campaigns, the Move Forward party stands out for its success. Their account has amassed over 3 million followers and 41.8 million likes, thanks to their expert use of the platform’s appeal through captivating short videos. During the voting campaign period, Move Forward’s 200+ TikTok videos raked in millions of views, with certain videos attracting nearly 10 million views. In just three months, their videos have garnered a collective 300 million views, and content from party candidates, staff, and supporters has drawn close to an astonishing 4 billion views.
Political campaigns leveraging TikTok have resonated beyond Thailand. Notable figures like North Carolina Democrat Senator Jeff Jackson and former US presidential candidate Andrew Yang have effectively used the platform to convey their political message. However, the success of TikTok campaigns can vary by country, as evidenced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s limited following and unremarkable content.
Despite TikTok banning paid campaign advertisements, the platform’s emphasis on community and collaboration makes it an ideal channel to express political opinions. Political activists regard TikTok as a powerful instrument for propelling their ideas to a vast audience, particularly targeting younger demographics, which constitute a large proportion of future voters.
TikTok’s political influence transcends electoral campaigns. The platform played a pivotal role in publicizing the 2020 police killing of George Floyd and igniting the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which saw the hashtag amass more than 30 billion views. TikTok’s predominantly youthful user base reflects a generation determined to create impactful content and effect change.
The May 14 election in Thailand highlighted TikTok’s status as a game-changing political platform. TikTok now provides parties with a unique opportunity to engage with a wider audience, thanks to its short, visually striking videos. Consequently, the platform has become an essential channel for political activism in Thailand and around the globe.
However, while social media platforms like TikTok offer tremendous potential, users must cultivate critical thinking skills to discern accurate information from the vast sea of content, thereby preventing public opinion manipulation.
As TikTok’s influence continues to grow, it is only a matter of time before politicians and political parties fully integrate this platform, targeting and engaging the next generation of voters effectively.