Biden launches official TikTok account

The move is significant, as the app is still banned on most government devices.

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign launched an official TikTok account on Sunday evening, identified by the handle @bidenhq.

In late 2022, President Biden enacted legislation that restricted the use of TikTok on most devices owned by the federal government. This provision was part of an extensive omnibus spending bill and was considered a significant victory for those in Congress who advocate a strong stance against China.

Following this lead, several states and New York City also implemented similar bans on government-owned devices last year, citing various security concerns.

TikTok is owned by a Chinese company

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is based in China, and its CEO, Shou Zi Chew, is a Singaporean graduate of Harvard Business School.

One of TikTok’s major external investors is Susquehanna International Group, with billionaire co-founder Jeffrey Yass contributing millions to lawmakers who advocate against a complete ban of the app in the United States.

Various US legislators have accused TikTok, along with other social media platforms, of disseminating content online that negatively impacts children’s mental health and failing to adequately protect them in the online space.

An effort to connect with younger voters

According to advisors from the Biden campaign, the TikTok account is part of a broader effort to connect with voters on the platform. Despite concerns, TikTok remains crucial for younger demographics, including those of voting age in the US. Pew Research data from late 2023 indicates that approximately one-third of 18-29 year-olds in the US regularly obtain news from TikTok, marking a higher share than ever before.

Recently, there has been bipartisan agreement on the need for tighter regulation of social media companies, including TikTok, Meta, Snap, Discord, and X, especially in the context of child safety, as highlighted during a Senate hearing last month.

The Biden administration has maintained a complex relationship with TikTok. While openly engaging TikTok stars and content creators for public service messages and civic events, the administration has also aligned with China-sceptical lawmakers, reportedly pressuring ByteDance to sell TikTok in response to mounting concerns in recent years.

 

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