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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Biden Campaign’s TikTok Debut Stokes National Security Debate

The Biden reelection campaign took the spotlight with the launch of a new TikTok account during the Super Bowl, despite ongoing national security concerns surrounding the app. 

This strategic move aims to reach young voters ahead of the November election but has raised bipartisan eyebrows.

Security Concerns Ignite Political Debate

Senator Mark Warner
Credits: CNN

Senator Mark Warner, chair of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed his concerns for the national security implications of Biden’s campaign joining TikTok. 

Owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, the app is currently under review in the US for its potential risk to national security. 

Considering that countries like India have already banned TikTok, Warner stated, “I think that we still need to find a way to follow India, which has prohibited TikTok. I’m a little worried about a mixed message.”

Furthermore, several Republican lawmakers have criticized the decision, adding to the bipartisan nature of the issue. 

Last year, the Biden administration ordered federal government agencies to remove TikTok from their government-owned phones and devices. White House spokesperson John Kirby clarified that this policy “is still in place.”

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TikTok’s Defense and the Biden Campaign’s Stance

TikTok
Credits: DepositPhotos

TikTok has steadfastly denied any allegations that it would share US user data with the Chinese government. 

The company claims that they have taken considerable measures to protect users’ privacy. They have yet to comment on the concerns raised by the Biden campaign’s recent move.

In defense of their decision, the Biden campaign said in a statement that it would “continue meeting voters where they are,” including on other prominent social media apps like Meta’s Instagram and Donald Trump’s Truth Social. 

According to a campaign official, the TikTok account was launched with “advanced safety precautions” for devices, and the campaign’s presence on the app is separate from its ongoing security review.

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Ongoing Review and Legislation Efforts

The US Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) demanded in March 2023 that TikTok’s Chinese owners sell their shares or face the possibility of the app being banned. 

The administration has not yet taken any action on this matter.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing that the CFIUS review is ongoing. 

Jean-Pierre also mentioned that the White House supports previous legislation introduced by Senator Warner and others to provide the administration with new tools to address threats posed by foreign-owned apps.

TikTok’s user base in the US has grown to 170 million, up from 150 million a year earlier. The platform’s ongoing growth and the controversial move by Biden’s campaign have only intensified the debate surrounding the popular social media app.

The Biden campaign’s decision to join TikTok has set off a firestorm of debate on both sides of the political aisle, as the social media app remains under scrutiny for potential national security risks. 

Although the campaign has taken measures to ensure the safety of its account, it serves as a catalyst to a pressing issue that remains unresolved. 

With TikTok increasing its user base in the US, industry experts and lawmakers will be watching closely for potential changes in the app’s legal and regulatory status.

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