Tiktok: Victoria Reichelt, are young people more susceptible to populism?


Tiktok: Victoria Reichelt, are young people more susceptible to populism?

Ms. Reichelt, you also talk about right-wing extremism and the AfD in your videos for “ZDF today live” or the radio format “die da oben”. What do you pay attention to when it comes to these topics? These are both formats of public broadcasters, and there are editorial teams behind them who work journalistically. But on my private channel I also mention numbers, evidence and sources early in the videos. So that viewers can recognize: This is a fact-based video, it is not primarily about my own opinion.

Public figures often report hate comments when they talk about right-wing extremist structures or topics on social media. Do you experience this too? It depends on the platform. I left Tiktok for a while because the climate became too hostile and aggressive for me. But at the moment I have the feeling that we have to counteract this hatred with something that is balanced.

What do you mean by the climate having become too hostile? An example: In a recent video on my private social channels I talk about the AfD's poll numbers. The reactions on Instagram to such videos are mixed. Some thank you for the information, others simply claim that the "Correctiv" research into the meeting between AfD politicians and right-wing extremists was a lie and state-financed. Of course that's not true.

And on Tiktok? On Tiktok I was met with a flood of negative and right-wing populist comments on the same video. These people don't even deal with the content, but instead write general pro-AfD comments, with blue hearts or red-white-black dots that stand for the Reich flag. This flood of comments is certainly influenced by so-called social bots, but for some there, as a public face, I have become an enemy. I also notice that in the letters. The absurd thing is that the more comments a video receives, the more it gets pushed. This means that if 500 or more comments say what a terrible video this is, it will be spread even further.

Which political issues stick with young people and why? What works for young people on social media also works for older people: simple answers to complex questions. Just a few years ago, at least in Germany, everything seemed to be fine. And suddenly everything seems to fall apart. Dealing with complex problems like wars or the climate crisis is stressful and scares people. If someone then comes to Tiktok and provides a scapegoat for it, it catches on. Especially with young people between the ages of 15 and 20 who are just starting to become interested in politics. But not just with them.

How should media companies react to this? This is the problem that all editorial teams are currently struggling with. Extreme and polarizing content clicks well, but is the opposite of what quality journalism wants: to reflect diverse opinions, illuminate different perspectives, and be balanced. That's why we need to improve media literacy at all ages.

The podcast "Hoss

How can this be achieved? For example, by having followers not only listen to this one podcast, but also read articles from other media and form their own opinions. But that hardly happens anymore, especially with a younger target group. That's why many people blindly accept the opinions that are put out there. If conspiracy myths are then spread or topics are presented in an abbreviated manner, as in “Hoss

Are young people more susceptible to populism? Not just young people. But from my point of view, they in particular do not find current politics to be very forward-looking. Many of the problems that we are currently becoming aware of will have a decisive impact on the lives of young people. Keyword climate crisis. At the same time, parties in Germany tend to focus on older people because young people are the minority. This explains why young people are turning away from politics. Because they have the feeling: We are not being heard, but we have to deal with all the crap later.

Can these people be brought back? As a democracy, we cannot afford not to bring them back. By that I don't even mean the people who deliberately spread disinformation. But the listeners and viewers who are drawn to these offerings. It is our job to fight for these people and bring them back into the democratic discourse.