Biden launches TikTok account in bid for re-election

President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has launched a TikTok account in a bid to reach younger voters, a move that comes as the popular short-form video platform confronts concerns over its ties to China.

The account was unveiled during the Super Bowl, one of America’s most-watched television events.

It’s the first time Biden has joined TikTok in an official capacity, though the White House and his campaign have previously sought to reach voters with interviews by influencers and social-media driven media companies, such as NowThis.

The move reflects a broader media strategy by the campaign that relies less on traditional media and seeks to reach younger voters who are more likely to receive information on apps, including Instagram, YouTube and X.

The Democratic National Committee, which works closely with the campaign, joined the platform in 2022.

TikTok has been embroiled in controversy in Washington, with lawmakers from both parties expressing concern that the app’s ownership by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd. poses a data-security risk.

The White House hasn’t publicly stated a position on whether the platform should be banned in the US, as some in Congress have urged, though the FBI and other agencies have warned about potential data vulnerabilities.

A campaign official, who requested anonymity, said that staffers are taking steps to secure their devices and prevent security risks.

There has been no decision yet on whether the president or the vice president will join the platform independently of the campaign account, they said.

Government employees are barred from having TikTok on their agency-issued devices under legislation signed by Biden in 2022.

Former President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning TikTok’s usage nationwide, but his action was blocked by the courts.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who serves on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee and has previously called for banning the app, criticised the Biden campaign’s decision.

“Biden campaign bragging about using a Chinese spy app even though Biden signed a law banning it on all federal devices,” Hawley wrote on X, the social-media platform formerly known as Twitter.

TikTok has previously disputed the security concerns expressed by US lawmakers and says it operates independently from the Chinese government.

The app had 150 million American users as of March last year, and became the first non-game mobile app to generate $10 billion in consumer spending, according to app tracker data.ai.

In his first post, Biden answers this-or-that questions, including which Super Bowl football team he prefers. “Two great quarterbacks,” he says, declining to pick a favourite.

The clip also features an image of Biden’s alter-ego created by his supporters, “Dark Brandon,” which shows the president with red laser eyes.

When asked about choosing between himself and his likely Republican opponent, Donald Trump, he chuckles before saying “Are you kidding? Biden.”

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Biden launches TikTok account in bid for re-election