Biden re-election effort opens a TikTok account

President Biden officially joined TikTok on Sunday.

The Biden campaign announced his arrival on the platform with a video captioned “lol hey guys” and a bio declaring “Grow the economy.”

In his first message, during the Super Bowl, an off-screen staffer asks Biden which team he supports, to which he responds that he is an Eagles fan.

The account is run by the Biden-Harris team, the name of the re-election effort, and will regularly post content as it does on other social networks, including Threads, Instagram, Facebook, X and Truth Social, according to campaign advisors.

“Our Roman Empire reaches voters wherever they are (did I do it right)? said Rob Flaherty, deputy campaign manager for Biden's re-election campaign. The phrase “Roman Empire” has become a meme that functions as shorthand for something a person cares deeply about and can't stop thinking about.

Biden's team has relied heavily on memes to try to connect with young people. Biden's avatar on TikTok features a black-and-white photo of the president with laser eyes, an image style popularized by the “Dark Brandon” meme that depicts Biden as a pragmatic superhero trained in the dark art of politics.

“Young people across the country have been waiting for this moment,” said Gen Z political content creator Aaron Parnas. “The president is meeting us where we are and we will help him with this.”

More than three dozen members of Congress, most of them Democrats, currently operate TikTok accounts.

However, TikTok has come under fire from Republicans, who criticized the app's ties to its Chinese parent company, ByteDance.

Biden's campaign said they take advanced security precautions around their devices and incorporate protocol to ensure account security. The campaign's presence is independent of the ongoing review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the government agency charged with investigating corporate deals for national security reasons and which has negotiated with the owner of TikTok, ByteDance.

The White House has often used TikTok to deliver messages and briefed TikTok creators on topics including the war in Ukraine, the president's infrastructure initiatives and the covid-19 pandemic.

In 2022, a group of TikTok creators spent an hour in the Oval Office in a private meeting with the president. The trip was organized by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in an effort to leverage TikTok's vast audience to influence the midterm elections. The DNC maintains an official TikTok account. Last December, the White House also hosted its first Christmas party exclusively for content creators.

TikTok has become a powerful campaign tool. In 2020, a collective of hundreds of content creators joined TikTok for Biden, a collaborative effort aimed at getting the president elected. And other lawmakers, like Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), have incorporated TikTok into their campaign efforts. One of the most popular lawmakers on TikTok is Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-N.C.), who has amassed more than 2.5 million followers by regularly posting videos about current events.

“During the last elections, one question remained open: could influencers make things happen in political campaigns? Daniel Daks, founder of talent management company Palette, who helped organize TikTok creators' trip to Washington to meet with Biden and former President Barack Obama, said last year. “The answer was quite solid, a yes. »

Last year, the Washington Post reported that some Democrats feared the crackdown on TikTok would hurt the party's ability to reach young voters. “Abandoning something that has proven incredibly helpful in winning elections is like shooting yourself in the foot,” said Aidan Kohn-Murphy, founder of Gen-Z for Change, a creative coalition formerly known under the TikTok name for Biden.

However, more recently, many young TikTok creators have used the platform to criticize Biden. They denounced his policies on climate change, the war in Gaza and his failure to contain the pandemic. Last year, many young activists attempted to use TikTok to get the Biden administration to stop the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska. Their campaign failed, but TikTok remained a powerful political platform and hub for progressive activism.

In January, Biden's re-election campaign announced that it was looking for a director of digital partnerships working with creators on TikTok and other social platforms to “amplify Joe Biden’s message and reach key voting blocs.”

Christian Tom, director of the White House Office of Digital Strategy, told an audience of content creators and industry executives at VidCon Baltimore last year that, for the first time, there is the White House has a specific team dedicated to forging partnerships with content creators. .

“The work we do with creators has the most benefit and potential of any communication method we use,” Tom said. “Whether it's spicy tweets from @WhiteHouse or our work with creators, it's about finding a way to appear in the feed in a way that feels authentic, organic, and ultimately by surprising you.”

Tom himself called Biden a content creator and touted some of the White House's digital reach, noting that she has amassed more than 93 million followers across all platforms.

Tyler Pager contributed to this report.

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