‘Lol hey guys’ – Biden joins TikTok despite security concerns

  • By Madeline Halpert
  • BBC News, New York

President Joe Biden’s campaign has joined TikTok, despite the app being banned on most US government devices over security concerns.

His campaign launched its account with the username “@bidenhq” during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

In a launch video, captioned “lol hey guys”, aides quizzed Mr Biden about his preferences for the big game.

The president signed legislation in 2022 blocking most federal government devices from using TikTok.

Several states have also adopted the measure. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called for the app – owned by Chinese company ByteDance – to be banned in the US over concerns the government in Beijing might be able to access user data.

Still, the site remains popular with young people in the US, a demographic that the White House is keen to energise for this November’s election.

Mr Biden’s TikTok account will not be run by the president himself, but by his campaign team, aides told US media.

Asked in the launch video if he was rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs or the San Francisco 49ers, Mr Biden said the Philadelphia Eagles, because otherwise “I’d be sleeping alone” as “my wife’s a Philly girl”.

He was also asked about a Taylor Swift Super Bowl conspiracy theory that saw some claim the singer’s relationship with Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce was part of a plot to rig the NFL’s championship game and help get Mr Biden re-elected this November.

“I’d get in trouble if I told you” about the conspiracy, Mr Biden joked.

His 2024 campaign is hoping to rekindle the record high turnout from young people that helped lift him to victory in the last election.

Around 50% of that bloc voted in 2020, according to Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. And some 65% of voters between the ages of 18 to 24 cast ballots for the Democratic president.

But opinion polling indicates that electoral coalition could be fraying.

Some surveys suggest younger voters, who are more likely to see Mr Biden as too pro-Israel, have become disaffected with his handling of the war in Gaza, or because they feel he has not done enough on student loan forgiveness.

Most alarmingly for Democratic strategists, some surveys have even found Mr Biden trailing his rival, former President Donald Trump, 77, among younger voters.

The 81-year-old president’s age has also been a major concern for voters of all ages.

Up to 75% of voters believe Mr Biden is too old for the job, opinion polling suggests.

The White House suffered political embarrassment last week when a justice department inquiry into his handling of classified documents called him a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”.

Special counsel Robert Hur did not recommend charges for Mr Biden.

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