US President Joe Biden’s launch on TikTok has caused a stir – not least because the Chinese-owned social media platform is still officially considered a security risk by Washington.
The video posted during the Super Bowl on Sunday was part of an effort by the 81-year-old’s re-election campaign to reach out to younger voters, and also included a reference to the bizarre meme of a laser-eyed Biden alter-ego.
But Republicans have criticized Democrat Biden for using an app that is banned on US federal government devices over fears it could collect data for Beijing.
Even the White House acknowledged on Monday that it still had concerns about TikTok.
“There are still national security concerns about the use of TikTok on government devices, and there is no change in that policy,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters after repeated questions on the issue. “
The White House said election rules prevent it from formally commenting on campaign matters, but more broadly said it was aware of the fear that platforms like TikTok could spread misinformation.
“This is a matter of concern to us,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
TikTok is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance and a group of US politicians have accused it of being a propaganda tool used by Beijing, something the company vehemently denies.
Republican Senator Joni Ernst, referring to the Chinese Communist Party
“There was consternation when the Biden campaign joined TikTok after the White House banned the app from devices a year ago,” said Republican Representative Darrell Issa.
– ‘Hey guys’ –
Still, Biden’s campaign has apparently decided it’s worthwhile to engage on TikTok to win over young voters ahead of a potential clash with Republican former president — and social media veteran — Donald Trump in November.
They are also relying on such social media posts to address voters’ concerns about Biden’s age, which have increased since a special counsel report last week described him as “well-intentioned, with a poor memory.” Described as “an elderly person”.
Sunday’s video posted on the @bidenhq campaign account, titled “Lol Hey Guys,” light-heartedly touches on topics ranging from politics to the NFL championship game.
When Biden was asked about the right-wing conspiracy theory that the game was rigged, pop star Taylor Swift — who is dating Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce — could use the refrain, “If I told you. I’ll be in trouble.” His fame for supporting Biden.
The video then features the “Dark Brandon” meme, an image of Biden with glowing red eyes and a big smile, which Democrats use to depict superpowers.
Biden campaign deputy manager Rob Flaherty said in a statement, “The president’s TikTok debut last night — with more than 5 million views and counting — is a positive example of both our commitment and success in finding new, innovative ways to reach voters. There is proof.”
Jean-Pierre said this pursuit of new media partly explains why Biden has held fewer press conferences than his predecessors – 33 in his first three years, while Barack Obama held 66 more, according to the University of California. Trump held 52 press conferences. Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)