Monday, June 24, 2024

AMLO online: The president creates his first official TikTok account

Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Instagram, Threads, and now TikTok.

President López Obrador has created an account on the Chinese-owned social media video-hosting service, the world’s sixth most popular social media site.

He announced Tuesday that he was joining TikTok, although his first video was posted to the platform last weekend. López Obrador joins world leaders such as Emmanuel Macron of France and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — but not U.S. President Joe Biden — on the site.

“Sometimes I upload videos to the [social] networks, I communicate with a lot of citizens … but I hadn’t been able to be present on a network that a lot of young people look at,” AMLO told reporters at his morning news conference.

López Obrador — well known for his slow pace of speech — said he hadn’t created a TikTok account previously because he doesn’t speak “smoothly” and most videos posted to the site are “short messages.”

However, with just nine months left in office, the president evidently changed his mind, perhaps because videos of up to 10 minutes in length can now be uploaded to the platform.

A phone screen with the TikTok app icon in focus
TikTok was the sixth most popular social media app in the world in 2023, with more than a billion active monthly users. (Solen Feyissa/Unsplash)

“I’m going to be on TikTok and I want to start on TikTok by offering an apology to a colleague who identifies as a woman, but who I said yesterday was a man dressed as a woman,” AMLO said.

He was referring to Morena party federal Deputy Salma Luévano, a trans woman he greeted during a visit to Motul, Yucatán, last week.

“I’m very respectful and I believe in freedom. And people should assume … [the gender] with which they identify. … So I’m offering an apology and send a hug to this colleague. In this way we’re starting with TikTok,” López Obrador said.

A clip of the president making his apology was in fact the fifth of six videos that had been uploaded to his TikTok account as of Friday afternoon.

AMLO shares the limelight with recently inaugurated government infrastructure projects —  the Olmeca Refinery on the Tabasco coast, the Tulum Airport, the Maya Train railroad and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec Interoceanic Railroad — in four of the other five videos.

In a period of days, his follower count has grown from just hundreds to around 400,000, an impressive number, but well short of his reach on Facebook (10.4 million followers), X (10.3 million), YouTube (4.1 million) and Instagram (1.4 million).

López Obrador has passed the follower count of presidential hopeful Xóchitl Gálvez on TikTok, but is still a long way off catching his political protege and ruling party candidate Claudia Sheinbaum, who has 1.6 million followers.

AMLO shows a smartphone to the audience as he stands at a podium
The president gained more than 400,000 followers since he began posting to TikTok last weekend. (LopezObrador.org.mx)

In late 2022, AMLO was ranked as the world’s 14th most influential world leader on Twitter by New York-based firm BCW.

Last September, he highlighted data that showed that he was the most-watched Spanish-language live streamer in the month of August, mainly as a result of the viewing of his morning pressers, or mañaneras.

Such is his fondness of social media that López Obrador often refers to platforms such as Facebook and X as “blessed social networks,” where anybody and everybody can voice their opinions.

In early 2021 after Donald Trump was kicked off Facebook and Twitter, AMLO floated the idea of creating a national social media network to avoid the possibility of Mexicans being censored. Nobody has the right to silence citizens even if their views are unpopular, López Obrador said at the time.

AMLO — a frequent critic of legacy media — clearly likes the opportunity social media affords him to convey unfiltered messages to citizens. He also likes the recognition that comes with being Mexico’s top political “influencer.”

Thus, he was disappointed at not being nominated for the 2024 ESLAND Awards, prizes awarded annually to content creators from Spain, Latin America and Andorra.

“They blew me off,” López Obrador said Friday when a reporter remarked that he was “very close” to being nominated.

“The truth is that is very pleasing that this circular dialogue [with reporters at the weekday mañaneras] is listened to by many people. … I was proposed as a nominee for the awards, they did a survey but I lost,” AMLO said.

“… But on this site, we’re in first place,” he said, displaying data that showed he was the “most watched” Latin American streamer in 2023.

“… The thing is that the morning press conferences are very important because … [they provide] information of interest to a lot of people. [Content creators] need to have a lot more creativity. There is creativity here, but we have the advantage that we have information about what’s happening in the country and that’s why the mañanera is watched a lot,” AMLO said.

The president’s daily pressers will be a thing of the past by the end of the year, but if López Obrador — in his retirement at his ranch in Palenque, Chiapas — ever feels the need to get a message out to a wide audience, all he’ll have to do is whip out his phone. Millions of Mexicans will be waiting.

Mexico News Daily 

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