Gen Z is breaking the electoral internet

The success of a savvy influencer that heralds the collapse of old online internet laws

Politics, makeup, and chihuahuas. A typical illustration of the Instagram landing page of Nuevo Leon’s future first lady.
The political old guard saw this online video from her college years as potential “dirt” against the junior congresswoman

Again: According to the Mexican National Electoral Institute, the wife should charge the husband for every Instagram story in the campaign trail because she is a successful influencer. This is the poster child of a GenZ problem. The only thing missing is a TikTok dance (there is a TikTok sound people could duet, though)

The typical mix of Mariana Rodriguez Cantu’s Instagram posts containing personal, electoral, and lifestyle material

Can you imagine if the future first lady of Nuevo Leon actually had invoiced her husband for 2 million dollars for using her online persona to promote his campaign? Considering that Mexican campaigns are publicly funded, it would instantly be framed as a way to steal public funds! What would the corruption scandal look like?

It took a single Gen-Z political couple to showcase how unprepared we are. We would not assume Michelle Obama or Barbara Bush would charge their husbands for a compliment on a morning show. The Gen-Zers do not need to go to morning shows. Having grown up on the platforms, they will already have the megaphone in their mouths before they turn 18 years old.

  1. Candidates and their families with a strong media presence should be allowed to use it to stay in contact with the voters in the same way we would not ask a good public speaker to handicap his/her speeches to make the competition fairer. But those candidates without a pre-existing strong social media presence should have access to publicly supported resources to level the playing field, including media teams. The world should not be owned by Youtubers.
  2. Influencers know fairly well how to manage multiple accounts. That is part of the job. Therefore, once in office, there should be rules for them to keep their public and private content separated. The first lady of Nuevo Leon should not be running Instagram giveaways in the same account she talks about anti-poverty policies implemented by the agency she will spearhead.
  3. Politicians should be encouraged to have a robust social media presence and citizens should be encouraged to interact with them online. The more diverse the followership, the more the internet can replicate the town hall feeling lost by the scale of our modern populations.
  4. Unauthentic coordinated behavior (aka Botnets and other ways to fake online crowds) should be clearly defined in the electoral laws and, in the case of politicians, it should be a criminal offense to use them. If the internet is going to be the place where we will have meaningful conversations, maintaining the honesty and integrity of those conversations is priority number one.