Trump joins TikTok after trying to ban the app: NPR

In this photo illustration, the TikTok application is seen on a phone on March 13, 2024 in New York. In less than 24 hours, former President Donald Trump amassed 2 million followers on the app.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images North America

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Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images North America

Former President Donald Trump is now on TikTok after trying to ban the popular video streaming app over national security concerns when he was in office.

Trump posted his first video on the app while attending an Ultimate Fighting Championship match in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday. In the video, Trump is accompanied by UFC president and longtime ally Dana White.

“The president is now on TikTok,” White said.

“It’s my honor,” Trump responded.

In 2020, Trump sought to crack down on TikTok through executive actions over concerns that the Chinese government could access sensitive data of U.S. users on the app, which is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance. Federal courts later blocked that effort.

More recently, Trump has distanced himself from pushes to ban the app, telling CNBC in March that while he still views it as a threat to national security, getting rid of it would only strengthen Facebook.

“Without TikTok, you can make Facebook bigger, and I consider Facebook an enemy of the people,” Trump said.

Trump’s emergence on the platform comes as the former president’s social media platform, Truth Social, faces new pressure after a New York jury convicted him Thursday of falsifying business records in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump has long denied any wrongdoing and made clear he would appeal the historic verdict.

As some Trump supporters doubled down and bought more shares of the former president’s social media platform, the stock overall fell 5% in the wake of the verdict, and in the first quarter alone, the company lost more than $300 million.

Joining TikTok may not help Truth Social’s bottom line, but it could prove to be an important avenue for Trump as he seeks to chip away at the advantage Democrats have traditionally enjoyed among young voters ahead of the election. Nearly a third of Americans under 30 say they get their news from TikTok, according to the Pew Research Center.

In less than 24 hours, Trump amassed 2 million followers. His one and only video racked up more than 34 million views as of Sunday afternoon.

The Biden campaign also created a TikTok account in February, although the Biden administration has raised similar concerns about the app as it relates to privacy and national security.

In April, Biden signed bipartisan legislation that would ban the platform in the United States unless it is sold to a non-Chinese company within nine months, with the possibility of a three-month extension if a sale is in progress.

TikTok is now challenging the law in federal court, calling it an unconstitutional violation of free speech. The company says there is no evidence that the Chinese government has ever influenced what Americans see on the app, nor is there any evidence that Chinese authorities have spied on American citizens through TikTok.

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