President Joe Biden is officially on TikTok.
In the middle of the Super Bowl on Sunday, the Biden campaign announced that it had joined the platform. In Biden’s first post, he’s asked a series of questions, like if he prefers the Kansas City Chiefs or the San Francisco 49ers. At the end, a staffer jokingly references the strange conspiracy theory that the White House rigged the game in the Chiefs’ favor to get Taylor Swift’s endorsement.
“Deviously plotting to rig the season so the Chiefs would make the Super Bowl or the Chiefs just being a good football team?” Biden is asked by the staffer.
“I’d get into trouble if I told you,” Biden replied.
Biden campaign advisors cite an increasingly fragmented media ecosystem as one of the main reasons the campaign finally joined the platform.
“A few years ago, young voters were all but ignored. Now, we have political power like never before, and the incumbent president’s campaign is on TikTok,” Jack Lobel, national press secretary for Voters of Tomorrow tells WIRED. “On TikTok, the Biden campaign will reach millions of young people, some of whom otherwise might not hear about the President’s accomplishments on issues from climate action to education.”
Under the handle @BidenHQ, the campaign says that it will start posting to TikTok regularly like it does like Facebook, Instagram, and X, formerly Twitter.
Before joining TikTok on Sunday, the Biden team appeared happy to avoid it and the politicization of its Chinese owner, Bytedance. As recently as last summer, a Biden staffer told NBC News that it would not be joining the platform for the 2024 election cycle. Instead, the Biden team opted to work with a slate of young influencers to spread its message over the last few years, and the Democratic National Committee operated an account supporting Biden and other down-ballot Democrats. Now that the campaign has its own account, it still plans to work with the influencer network throughout the election, Biden campaign advisors said on Sunday.
Since about 2018, Congress has tried to ban TikTok in the US, despite many lawmakers using the app themselves. TikTok’s opponents argue that the app spies on American users on behalf of the Chinese government, providing Beijing with a secret backdoor to US data. Last spring, the Biden administration gave Bytedance, TikTok’s owner, an ultimatum of either selling the app to a US company or facing an outright ban.
Biden campaign advisors said that they’re taking enhanced security measures to protect their data and devices. TikTok is currently banned on most federal devices, and a Biden spokesperson said that the team is logged into TikTok on a separate device used specifically for using the app.
Biden’s campaign has already leaned into referencing the right wing memes about his presidency: Shortly after the Chiefs won the Super Bowl on Sunday night, the campaign published a photo on X (which was also featured in Biden’s first TikTok video) of the president smiling with laser eyes which has become synonymous with the “Dark Brandon” meme.
The image was captioned saying, “Just like we drew it up,” invoking the Swift conspiracy once more.