Biden to Continue Using TikTok Despite Coming Ban

Biden to Continue Using TikTok Despite Coming Ban

Joe Biden will continue to use TikTok to campaign for re-election, even though the U.S. president signed into law a bill demanding that the Chinese-owned app be sold or banned in the U.S.

It is a curious case of double standards, but the Biden campaign argues that TikTok offers the team a way “to show up and meet voters where they are,” the Financial Times reports.

The campaign says the popular video sharing app ensures that its “content is being seen by voters”. Biden signed the TikTok ‘ban’ bill on Apr. 24 after lawmakers had earlier voted in favor of the ban.

Also read: House Approves Bill that Could Ban TikTok in the US

High stakes game

The bill, signed as part of a $95 billion aid package to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, gives TikTok’s Chinese owners ByteDance nine months to sell their 20% stake in the app or it will be blocked in the U.S. America cites “national security” as the reason for the ban.

The government is concerned that TikTok could share user data like browsing history and location with the Chinese government, which could use the information for espionage, lawmakers say. TikTok officials have routinely denied the allegations.

However, with over 170 million people using TikTok in the United States, more than half the country’s population, Biden’s campaign sees the social media app as a means to reach younger voters. An official with the Biden team told the Financial Times:

“When the stakes are this high in the election, we are going to use every tool we have to reach young voters where they are.”

The campaign said it would use “enhanced security measures” on TikTok, but did not provide details “for security reasons.” Biden could square off with former president Donald Trump in elections scheduled for November in a potential rematch.

TikTok is already banned on most devices owned by the US federal government over security fears. In February, however, Biden’s team launched the TikTok account, @bidenhq, anyway. The campaign said at the time that it wanted to tap the youth vote.

Biden’s account, which often features videos of the president and other politicians, has now shared 140 videos garnering 3.9 million likes. Some 312,000 people follow the U.S. president on TikTok.

Biden to Continue Using TikTok Despite Coming Ban

TikTok CEO: ‘We’re not selling’

The United States is a key market for ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese owners. That is partly why the company has been fighting tooth and nail to remain operational in America, even as the working environment looks increasingly difficult.

TikTok previously pledged to spend $1.5 billion on a program to protect U.S. user data and content from Chinese government access or influence. The plan would seal off U.S. operations, with all data stored within the country at tech firm Oracle.

Biden’s latest TikTok ban bill might have put paid to those efforts. Reacting to the divest or ban threat, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said the company will challenge the “unconstitutional” law in court.

“We are confident and we will keep fighting for your rights in the courts,” Chew said, BBC reported. “The facts, and the Constitution, are on our side… rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere.”

He blasted the bill and urged people to share stories of how TikTok had improved their lives.

“Make no mistake, this is a ban – a ban on TikTok, and a ban on you, and your voice,” Chew said in a video posted on TikTok.

TikTok said in a separate statement that “the facts and the law” were “clearly” on its side. “The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep U.S. data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation,” it added.

The TikTok ban bill had widespread support from both Republican lawmakers and the Democrats, with 79 Senators voting for it and 18 against. ByteDance says it is not a Chinese company, pointing to global global investors that own 60% of its shares.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.