Home Politics Biden garners 67K TikTok followers on first day using Chinese-owned app he banned over security concerns

Biden garners 67K TikTok followers on first day using Chinese-owned app he banned over security concerns

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President Biden’s new campaign account garnered more than 67,000 TikTok followers in the first day since joining the Chinese-owned app he banned over national security concerns. 

The @bidenhq account’s following had jumped even higher to nearly 82,000 followers as of Tuesday morning, with more than 681,300 likes. 

That’s still a far cry from Biden’s 37.8 million followers on his campaign account on X, formerly Twitter. 

‘Lol hey guys,’ the first TikTok video on the account, published during the Super Bowl game Sunday, read in the caption. Biden, in khaki slacks and a navy sweater, stood with his hands in his pockets as he was asked a series of questions. Asked ‘Chiefs or Niners?,’ Biden responded, ‘Two great quarterbacks, hard to decide, but if I didn’t say I was for the Eagles, then I’d be sleeping alone. My wife’s a Philly girl.’ When challenged on if he preferred the game or commercials or the game or the halftime show, Biden responded game twice. 

‘Jason Kelce or Travis Kelce?’ someone questioned from behind the camera. ‘Mama Kelce. I understand she makes great chocolate chip cookies,’ Biden said. 

‘Deviously plotting to rig the season so the Chiefs would make the Super Bowl? Or are the Chiefs just being a good football team?’ the voice asked again. 

‘I’d get in trouble if I told you,’ Biden responded, as the video cuts briefly to the Dark Brandon meme.

‘Trump or Biden?’ he’s asked, as the screen shows a side by side of Trump, a bit sunburned, in a Make America Great Again hat and polo, next to Biden seen smiling and wearing a suit in his official headshot. ‘Are you kidding?’ the president chuckles, concluding the video. ‘Biden.’

Biden’s reelection campaign on Monday defended its new TikTok account as a vital way to boost its appeal with young voters, even as his administration continued to raise security concerns about whether the popular social media app might be sharing user data with China’s communist government.

Biden in 2022 signed legislation banning the use of TikTok by the federal government’s nearly 4 million employees on devices owned by its agencies, with limited exceptions for law enforcement, national security and security research purposes.

With 150 million U.S. users, TikTok is best known for quick snippets of viral dance routines. But Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., posted on X that Biden’s campaign is ‘bragging about using a Chinese spy app even though Biden signed a law banning it on all federal devices.’

‘The President’s TikTok debut last night — with more than 5 million views and counting — is proof positive of both our commitment and success in finding new, innovative ways to reach voters in an evolving, fragmented, and increasingly personalized media environment,’ Biden reelection deputy campaign manager Rob Flaherty said in a statement Monday. 

The Biden campaign said it had been mulling establishing a TikTok account for months and had ultimately done so at the urging of youth activists and organizations, who argued that the app was key to reaching young voters. The campaign said it is using a separate cellphone to engage on TikTok in order to isolate using the app from other workstreams and communications, including emails. The campaign said it was taking additional steps but declined to name them, citing security concerns.

At the White House, though, national security spokesman John Kirby acknowledged that ‘there are still national security concerns about the use of TikTok on government devices and there’s been no change to our policy not to allow that.’ Kirby referred most questions about TikTok to the Biden campaign and ducked a more general query about whether it was wise to use the app at all. He said the potential security issues ‘have to do with concerns about the preservation of data and potential misuse of that data and privacy information by foreign actors.’

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she is not in contact with the campaign and had no advance warning that its TikTok account was going live.

Both the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission have warned that TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, could share user data — such as browsing history, location and biometric identifiers — with that country’s authoritarian government. Separately, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has been reviewing the app for years while trying unsuccessfully to force TikTok ownership to divest from its parent company. The White House said Monday the review is ongoing.

Another three videos had been added to Biden’s TikTok by Tuesday morning. ‘Weird brag,’ one was captioned, including clips of former President Trump championing the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Another video captioned ‘lol’ showed Biden making a joke about his memory at a D.C. conference Monday, taking a jab at Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report.

The latest video on the account was captioned, ‘He really said that…,’ and showed Trump at a recent South Carolina rally stating he’d encourage Russia to do ‘whatever the hell they want’ if U.S. allies did not pay their fair share into NATO. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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