Senate Intel Democrat worried about ‘mixed message’ of Biden campaign joining TikTok

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday that he is concerned by the President Biden campaign’s decision to join TikTok.

Warner expressed worry about the potential national security implications of the decision after Biden posted on the platform for the first time Sunday with a Super Bowl-themed question and answer video, in what could be part of a push for the youth vote in his reelection campaign.

“I think at the end of the day, the Chinese Communist Party ­can not 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 introduced legislation last year alongside Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) that would give the Department of Commerce the ability to review and potentially ban technologies associated with foreign governments, such as TikTok.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based out of Beijing, and concerns about user data and privacy have become common in Congress as Republicans worry the company has connections to the Chinese government.

After Biden’s video went viral, a number of Republican lawmakers criticized the campaign’s decision to join the app.

The White House has leveraged TikTok before, but never directly, spreading messaging on COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war for creators to use. It has also invited popular creators on the site to the White House.

Biden’s video, captioned “lol hey guys,” appears to be targeting the youth vote. Young people are the largest demographic of users on the app. As of Tuesday morning, the video has more than 7.4 million views.

White House spokesperson John Kirby said “nothing’s changed about the national security concerns” about the app from the National Security Council’s perspective, according to Reuters. Biden signed an act in late 2022 that banned the use of TikTok on government devices.

The Biden campaign said it was taking “advanced security measures around our devices and incorporating a sophisticated security protocol to ensure security,” Reuters reported. The campaign has posted multiple videos on the app and has gained more than 88,000 followers.

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