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'Setting the framework': Rep. Jeff Jackson uses social media to inform voters


Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-NC 14th) is sworn into the 118th Congress on Jan. 5, 2023. 

Photo Courtesy of Ike Hayman. 

Jeff Jackson (D-N.C. 14th) is a member of Congress, a member of the National Guard and a father of three. He's also a TikTok star.

Jackson has about 1.4 million followers on the platform, where he posts informational videos about Congress and its function and current issues — including information about emergency Zoom calls and the traditional freshman Congress office lottery.

In an email statement, Jackson said trust in political leadership has never been lower, and that transparency is key to earning that trust.

“To me, it feels like part of the job of being a representative," he said in the email. "If we believe in transparency, then social media is a tool for accomplishing that. I just see it as an extension of my job."

Jackson had a strong media presence prior to his recent election, garnering over 500,000 views on his second-ever TikTok, a video that shows him addressing corruption as a state representative.

He used the platform, along with Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, as a tool in the race for North Carolina's U.S. Senate seat and later the 14th District seat. Jackson promoted campaign initiatives such as 100 Counties in 100 Days — where he held 100 different town halls in 100 days — as well as his policies, such as expanding reproductive health care access and legalizing marijuana.

One of his recent videos, covering the Silicon Valley Bank failure, has over 26 million views on TikTok, as well as 6 million on Instagram and 6,500 on YouTube.

Jackson is also continuing to expand his online presence by sending out blog updates to subscribers’ emails.

“He's a very adept user of a medium that just not a lot of other people in politics are using regularly,” Daniel Kreiss, a professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, said. 

But Kreiss also said Jackson’s success can be attributed to his authentic presence online.

“People who have used social media really well in the political space tend to be people who are unscripted, who can appear as being authentic who can communicate in a way that doesn't read like a press release,” Kreiss said.

Jackson is authentic both on- and off-camera, according to Tyler Smith, who served as the co-captain of the UNC for Jeff Jackson campaign.

“It's a testament to how effective he is as a speaker and as a good person,” Smith said.

Jackson went to high school in Chapel Hill and attended Emory University. He returned to North Carolina to attend UNC’s School of Law, and served as Gaston County Assistant District Attorney before becoming the second-youngest North Carolina state senator in 2014. 

In 2022, after an unsuccessful run in the Democratic primary for the North Carolina U.S. Senate seat, Jackson announced his candidacy for North Carolina’s new 14th Congressional district.

Sally Curme, a former communications and finance intern on Jackson’s Senate campaign, said Jackson has a strong commitment to informing his constituents.

“He was willing to be there. He wanted to talk about everything from education to voters’ rights to gun control to LGBTQ+ rights and everything in between,” Curme said.

She said other politicians will start "taking a page out of his book," and that his social media presence helps to connect with voters of all demographics.

"I think he is setting the framework for the future of politics," Curme said.

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