Abstract: Populist parties use social media as a fundamental element of their online communication strategies. This article aims to identify the strategies of right-wing populist parties and politicians on TikTok by measuring a set of features of their videos: It evaluates the presence of hate speech in these messages and the identification of certain groups as “enemies” of “the people,” and also pays special attention to the differences in engagement according to the presence of hate speech and entertaining or humoristic features. We apply a content analysis to a transnational sample (N = 293) of videos posted by the following populist right-wing parties and politicians on TikTok: Vox and Santiago Abascal (Spain), José Antonio Kast (Chile), and the UK Independence Party (UK). Findings show that while Vox and UKIP use TikTok to convey their ideology and values and to target the state as the main enemy of “the common person,” Kast used the same platform to build and project his image of leadership and to broadcast humoristic and entertaining content. Only 19% of the analyzed videos included hate speech elements. Not only was hate speech uncommon; it deterred engagement in terms of the number of comments as well. Contrarily, humour and entertainment favoured engagement. We conclude that TikTok might downplay the most controversial issues of the populist right.
Keywords: Chile; hate speech; political communication; populism; right-wing; social media; Spain; TikTok; UK