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‘lol hey guys’: Joe Biden's 2024 presidential campaign joins TikTok

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President Joe Biden's 2024 presidential campaign has joined TikTok, going against earlier statements indicating their reluctance to join the platform due to security concerns.

First post: The inaugural video, posted on Sunday during the Super Bowl, features Biden engaging in a light-hearted game of “this or that” questions, including choosing between the Kansas City Chiefs or San Francisco 49ers, game or halftime show and Jason Kelce or Travis Kelce. The president also pokes fun at the conservative conspiracy theory alleging the NFL rigged the season for Taylor Swift to endorse him on the field. He playfully avoids confirming a plot, leading to a quick cut to the “Dark Brandon” meme in the video, which includes the caption: "lol hey guys."

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Why join now?: Biden’s account is managed by campaign staff with the goal of connecting with diverse audiences and essential voter groups. This move contradicts prior concerns about potential national security threats linked to TikTok, especially as the Biden administration had enacted legislation in 2022 restricting federal employees from using the app on government devices. 

Despite apprehensions, the campaign's TikTok presence aligns with Biden's strategy of using memes and internet culture to appeal to young voters, a pivotal demographic for Democratic success. The incorporation of the "Dark Brandon" meme in the TikTok profile reflects this targeted approach. 

Data on young voters: According to the Pew Research Center, a significant portion of Americans under 30, around a third, reportedly regularly obtain their news from TikTok. While this age group played a crucial role in Biden's 2020 election victory, his approval ratings among them have declined as he faces criticism concerning his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

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Additionally, there is a potential enthusiasm issue, with fewer voters under 30 expressing a definite plan to vote in the upcoming presidential election compared to four years ago, according to the latest Harvard Youth poll.

What Republicans are saying: Some Republican lawmakers, such as Sen. Tom Cotton, criticized Biden's campaign for joining TikTok, labeling the platform as a “spy app for the Chinese Communist Party” used for propaganda and data theft. Cotton argued that the campaign's TikTok presence was a response to negative publicity, including reports questioning Biden's memory. 

However, young organizers, like Jack Lobel from the group Voters of Tomorrow, viewed the TikTok move positively, considering it as an effort by the president to connect with and acknowledge the growing political impact of the younger generation.

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