Biden campaign faces bipartisan pushback over decision to join TikTok

President Biden’s campaign is facing pushback from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle after joining TikTok.

The president’s reelection effort joined the video-based social media app and posted its first video Sunday, showing Biden answering Super Bowl-themed questions ahead of the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.

Several Republican senators slammed Biden’s decision to join TikTok, given data privacy and national security concerns about the social media platform and its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance.

“TikTok is a spy app for the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) claimed in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “It’s used to push propaganda on American kids and steal data. It’s shameful that Biden is embracing TikTok to compensate for bad polls driven by his mental decline.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) pointed to legislation Biden signed in December 2022 that banned TikTok from federal government devices, to criticize the campaign’s decision to use the social media platform. 

“TikTok was banned from all federal government devices because it’s a threat to our national security,” Ernst wrote on X. “That didn’t stop the Biden campaign from joining the CCP’s dangerous propaganda app.”

The campaign’s joining of TikTok has also worried Democratic Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), who voiced concerns Monday about the national security implications of the decision. 

“I think at the end of the day, the Chinese Communist Party cannot only get access to the data, but also, more importantly, can potentially drive the algorithms in terms of what you’re seeing,” Warner said, adding, “I’m a little worried about a mixed message.”

Warner, who serves as the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation alongside Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) last year that would give the Department of Commerce the ability to review and potentially ban technologies, such as TikTok, associated with foreign governments.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted at Monday’s briefing that the White House supports Warner and Thune’s legislation.

John Kirby, who is now serving as the White House national security communications adviser, also emphasized TikTok is still banned on government devices.

“Nothing’s changed about the national security concerns from the [National Security Council’s] perspective about the use of TikTok on government devices,” Kirby said. “That policy is still in place.”

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