US President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign received flak for joining TikTok, despite a White House ban on government agencies using the Chinese-owned app.
US President Joe Biden(AP)
The re-election campaign of Biden used the Super Bowl to launch its new TikTok account in an attempt to woo younger voters in advance of the presidential election in November.
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The campaign’s debut on TikTok is noteworthy since the app, owned by the Chinese internet company ByteDance, is being investigated in the US for possible national security concerns. Several US senators have urged for the app to be outlawed because they are worried that the Chinese government may access user data or manipulate what users view on the app.
“Hey by the way, we just joined TikTok,” the Biden-Harris re-election campaign posted on X and shared a link to the new account under the username “@bidenhq”.
In a launch video captioned as “lol hey guys”, Biden offered his opinions on various Super Bowl-related queries, including his preference for one of the Kelce brothers.
As of Tuesday morning, the @bidenhq account had more than 681,300 likes and nearly 82,000 followers.
Many were taken aback by the Biden’s campaign move, considering that the Biden administration outlawed the use of TikTok on federal phones and devices last year.
Earlier, the Biden re-election campaign had downplayed a report that Biden’s team was planning to use TikTok. In fact, the Biden administration warned TikTok that if its parent firm, ByteDance, didn’t sell its share in the US version of the app, it may be banned in the country.
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Concerns raised over Biden campaign’s move
After Biden campaign joined TikTok, Democratic Senator Mark Warner on Monday raised concerns about the national security implications.
“I think that we still need to find a way to follow India, which has prohibited TikTok,” Warner said, according to The Guardian. “I’m a little worried about a mixed message.”
Meanwhile, White House spokesperson John Kirby asserted no changes have been made regarding the “national security concerns … about the use of TikTok on government devices. That policy is still in place.”
Several GOP lawmakers have also denounced the campaign’s decision to join TikTok.
Heritage Foundation vice president Victoria Coates wrote on X (formerly Twitter), “Great so your message can be managed by the CCP.”
“Just in time for Valentine’s Day. Xi’s gonna love it,” Journalist Chuck Ross tweeted.
American Foreign Policy Council senior fellow Michael Sobolik also lambasted the decision, stating that it’s a “dangerous message Biden is sending to China”.
“Biden’s own administration has removed TikTok from government devices for security reasons. His own agency heads have called the app a national security threat. When he campaigned for president in 2020, Biden called TikTok a ‘matter of genuine concern.’ Now, suddenly, it isn’t anymore. Why? Because Biden needs it for his reelection campaign,” he wrote.
“Of course it’s putting political ambition ahead of national security. That’s bad enough. But it also confirms the CCP’s critique of democracy: it’s fundamentally corrupt,” Sobolik continued. “That’s the dangerous message Biden is sending to China. No one should let him off for this. A failure of leadership.”
A look at some more reactions:
Biden campaign’s response on joining TikTok
In a statement, the Biden team pledged to “continue meeting voters where they are,” referring to other social media platforms such as Truth Social, a platform launched by former president Donald Trump, and Meta’s Instagram.
According to Biden campaign, the campaign is implementing “advanced safety precautions” for its devices, and their appearance on TikTok has no connection with the app’s ongoing security review.
Meanwhile, Biden campaign advisers told Axios that “in a media ecosystem that is more fragmented and personalized than ever, it’s even more important to get our message across every channel and every platform possible”.
Last month, TikTok reported to Congress that 170 million Americans use the app for short videos, compared to 150 million a year earlier.