US President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has come under fire for joining TikTok, despite the White House’s ban on government agencies using the Chinese-owned app.
Biden’s re-election campaign used the Super Bowl to launch its new TikTok account in an attempt to appeal to younger voters ahead of November’s presidential election.
The campaign’s debut on TikTok is noteworthy as the app, owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance, is under investigation in the United States for potential national security concerns. Several US senators have urged the app to be banned because they are concerned that the Chinese government could access user data or manipulate what users see on the app.
“By the way, we just joined TikTok,” the Biden-Harris re-election campaign posted on X and shared a link to the new account with the username “@bidenhq.”
In a launch video titled “haha hey guys,” Biden offered his thoughts on several 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 Biden’s campaign move, considering the Biden administration banned the use of TikTok on federal phones and devices last year.
Previously, Biden’s re-election campaign had downplayed a report that Biden’s team planned to use TikTok. In fact, the Biden administration warned TikTok that if its parent company, ByteDance, did not sell its stake in the US version of the app, it could be banned in the country.
Read also: ‘Ban TikTok,’ Republican presidential candidates vow to shut down social media app during GOP debate
Concerns over Biden campaign move
After the Biden campaign joined TikTok, Democratic Senator Mark Warner on Monday expressed concern about the national security implications.
“I think we still have to find a way to follow India, which has banned TikTok,” Warner said, according to The Guardian. “I’m a little worried about a mixed message.”
Meanwhile, White House spokesman John Kirby said no changes have been made regarding “national security concerns… about the use of TikTok on government devices.” That policy is still in effect.”
Several Republican lawmakers have also denounced the campaign’s decision to join TikTok.
Heritage Foundation vice president Victoria Coates wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “Great, the PCC can manage their message.”
“Just in time for Valentine’s Day. “Xi will love it,” tweeted journalist Chuck Ross.
Michael Sobolik, a senior fellow at the US Foreign Policy Council, also criticized the decision, saying it is a “dangerous message that Biden is sending to China.”
“The Biden administration itself has removed TikTok from government devices for security reasons. The heads of its own agencies have called the app a national security threat. When campaigning for president in 2020, Biden called TikTok a ‘ matter of genuine concern.’ Now, suddenly, it isn’t. Why? Because Biden needs it for his re-election campaign,” he wrote.
“Of course, he is putting political ambition before national security. That is bad enough. But it also confirms the CCP’s criticism of democracy: it is fundamentally corrupt,” Sobolik continued. “That is the dangerous message Biden is sending to China. No one should let him off the hook for this. A failure of leadership.”A look at some more reactions:
The Biden campaign’s response to joining TikTok
In a statement, Biden’s 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 the Biden campaign, the campaign is implementing “advanced security precautions” for its devices, and its appearance on TikTok has no connection to 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 is even more important to get our message across every possible channel and platform.”
Last month, TikTok reported to Congress that 170 million Americans use the app for short videos, up from 150 million a year earlier.