US President Joe Biden’s inaugural appearance on TikTok has ignited controversy, particularly because the Chinese-owned social media platform is still officially regarded as a security risk by the United States.
The video, shared during Sunday’s Super Bowl, was part of the 81-year-old president’s reelection campaign strategy to connect with younger voters and featured a nod to the peculiar meme of a laser-eyed Biden alter-ego.
Despite the lighthearted intent, Republicans have criticized President Biden for utilizing an app banned on US federal government devices due to concerns about data harvesting for Beijing.
Even the White House acknowledged lingering apprehensions about TikTok on Monday. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby emphasized, “There are still national security concerns about the use of TikTok on government devices, and there’s been no change to that policy.”
While the White House refrained from formally commenting on campaign matters due to election rules, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre expressed a broader awareness of fears that platforms like TikTok could be conduits for spreading disinformation. “It’s a concern that we have,” she stated.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has faced allegations from numerous US politicians of serving as a propaganda tool for Beijing, vehemently denied by the company.
Critics seized on the situation, with Republican Senator Joni Ernst stating, “The concerns didn’t stop the Biden campaign from joining the CCP’s dangerous propaganda app,” referring to the Chinese Communist Party. Republican Representative Darrell Issa added, “Panic is when the Biden campaign joins TikTok after the White House banned the app from devices a year ago.”