May 26, 2024

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Election 2024: The Biden campaign embraces the TikTok application despite the president signing a law that may ban it

Election 2024: The Biden campaign embraces the TikTok application despite the president signing a law that may ban it

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Pres Joe Biden Show his status during a Campaign stop at a public golf course And in Michigan last month, the moment was captured on TikTok.

A rainstorm forced him inside, and he competed with 13-year-old Hurley “HJ” Coleman IV to hit the ball on the practice mat. Coleman's family posted a video of the proceedings on the app — with Biden making a putt and the teen knocking his shot home in response to the comment, “I had to drown out the rebuttal.”

The cameras of the television network that usually follows the president were stuck outside.

Biden signed legislation Wednesday could ban TikTok in the United States as his campaign embraced the platform and tried to work with influencers. The president is already struggling to maintain his previous support from young voters, and now faces criticism from some avid users of the app, which researchers found is a major news source for a third of Americans under 30.

“There is a fundamental hypocrisy of the Biden administration supporting a TikTok ban while simultaneously using TikTok for campaign purposes,” said Khalil Green, who has more than 650,000 followers and is known on TikTok as the “Generation Z Historian.”

“I think this shows that he and his team know the power and necessity of TikTok.”

The Biden campaign defends its approach and rejects the idea that White House policy conflicts with its political efforts.

“It would be ridiculous to write off anywhere people get information about the president,” said Rob Flaherty, who ran the White House Office of Digital Strategy and is now deputy director of Biden's re-election campaign.

Flaherty said Biden's team built relationships with TikTok influencers in the 2020 election, and that the platform has become more influential since then, “growing as an online search engine and pushing narratives about the president.”

The Biden campaign says the modern, increasingly fragmented media environment requires it to meet voters where they are, and that TikTok is one of many places potential supporters see its content, in addition to platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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It produced its own TikTok content, but also relied on everyday users interacting with the president. That includes a post from a family who ate French fries and other fixings from the fast-food chain Cook Out when Biden recently visited Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as a video of Coleman.

Opponents of TikTok say it is owned by a Chinese company ByteDance It gives Beijing a dangerous amount of influence over what Americans see as well as access to American user data. China's national security laws allow the ruling Communist Party broad powers over private businesses, although the United States has not publicly provided evidence that the Chinese government tampered with the app or forced ByteDance to do its bidding.

The law signed by Biden on Wednesday would force ByteDance to sell the app to a US company within a year or face a national ban. ByteDance said the law violates the First Amendment and promised to sue.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, is now publicly opposed to banning TikTok after issuing an executive order while in office trying to ban the app if ByteDance doesn't sell it.

The White House does not have an official TikTok account and Biden banned the app on most government devices in December 2022. However, the Biden campaign also officially joined TikTok on the night of this year's Super Bowl, with the president avoiding a traditional television interview on the day of the game. Instead to spread a political message via the platform.

Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki He held a virtual briefing in 2022 for more than two dozen influencers on the app to discuss the U.S. approach to Ukraine, a gathering that was later parodied on “Saturday Night Live.”

There have been dozens of other similar events, including a poignant ceremony at the White House last Christmas and the State of the Union observation ceremony in March. During Biden's recent statements, $26 million fundraising campaign At Radio City Music Hall in New York with former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, there was an influencer happy hour and an after-party where attendees interacted with Biden.

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White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre He said that the legislation signed by Biden “is not a ban. “This is about our national security.” She added that the White House is not saying “we don't want Americans using TikTok.”

TikTok has 170 million US users and The study was released last November The Pew Research Center found that about a third of U.S. adults under the age of 30 regularly get news from TikTok, compared to 14% of all adults.

Adults under the age of 30 are more likely than U.S. adults overall to oppose a ban on the use of TikTok in the United States, according to a new study. The AP-NORC poll was conducted in January. Nearly half of people between the ages of 18 and 29 oppose the idea, compared to 35% of US adults.

About 2 in 10 U.S. adults said they use TikTok at least once a day, including 44% of 18-29 year olds. Among 18-29 year olds, 7% say they use TikTok “almost constantly” and an additional 28% use it “several times a day.”

Priorities USA, the leading Democratic political action committee, is spending about $1 million this cycle to help fund more than 100 TikTok influencers producing pro-Biden content before November, and views these efforts as an extension of traditional organizing and communications initiatives.

Even if TikTok is eventually banned, most influencers are on other platforms that could continue to take their content, especially YouTube and Instagram, said Danielle Butterfield, executive director of Priorities USA.

“TikTok users are online in general, and in a lot of different places,” said Butterfield, who was also deputy director of digital advertising for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

At the same time, Biden has seen his standing among young people decline. About a third of adults under 30 approve of how he handles his job as president, according to one study The AP-NORC poll was conducted in March — a sharp drop from the roughly two-thirds approval rating when he first took office.

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Greene studied history at Yale, served as the school's first black student body president and graduated in 2022. He has attended previous White House events as an influencer, including the Juneteenth celebration and the West Wing event for the Inflation Act, universal health care and green energy package, where He met with both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

However, about a year ago, Greene says he began posting about Biden's endorsement of a 1994 comprehensive crime bill that activists have long said contributed to mass incarceration of racial minorities. He also criticized the current Biden administration for what he called “the lack of a specific policy toward black Americans.”

Since then, while Green continues to receive more public emails from the Biden administration, he said he is no longer invited to more in-person events while some “creatives who fell in line, who are less critical” are still continuing.

Flaherty, Biden's deputy campaign manager, said the campaign has paid influencers in specific cases, such as when their content is used in ads, and that some content creators working with the campaign have raised concerns about legislation mandating divestment. But he doesn't see it having much impact on Election Day.

“I think young voters are not going to vote on TikTok,” Flaherty said. “They will vote on issues that are being discussed on TikTok but are also being discussed elsewhere.”

However, Greene said young voters are frustrated with the Biden administration in other areas — especially her own Dealing with the war between Israel and Hamas – Combined with TikTok divestment legislation to create political problems for Biden.

“I cannot overstate how this exacerbates the protest and discontent that people already feel,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Lynley Sanders contributed to this report.