Economy 12-02-2024 13:01 5 Views

Biden campaign joins TikTok in an effort to reach younger voters

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 “Grows the economy.”

In his first post, during the Super Bowl, Biden is asked by a staffer off screen which team he’s rooting for, to which he responds that he’s an Eagles fan.

@bidenhq

lol hey guys

♬ Fox nfl theme – Notrandompostsguy

The account is run by Team Biden-Harris, the name for the reelection effort, and will be posting content regularly as it does on other social channels including Threads, Instagram, Facebook, X and Truth Social, according to campaign advisers.

“Our Roman Empire is reaching voters wherever they are (did I do that right)?” said Rob Flaherty, deputy campaign manager for Biden’s reelection 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 leaned hard into memes in attempts to connect with young people. Biden’s avatar on TikTok features a black and white photo of the president with laser eyes, a style of image popularized by the “Dark Brandon” meme which portrays Biden as a no nonsense super hero schooled in the dark art of politics.

“Young people around the country have been waiting for this moment,” said Aaron Parnas, a Gen Z political content creator. “The president is meeting us where we are, and we’ll help him with because of it.”

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

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

Biden’s campaign said that they’re taking advanced safety precautions around their devices and incorporating a protocol to ensure security of the account. The campaign’s presence is independent from the ongoing review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the government agency that’s tasked with investigating corporate deals for national security concerns and has been negotiating with TikTok owner ByteDance.

The White House has often used TikTok to spread messaging and has briefed TikTok creators on things such as 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 attempt to leverage TikTok’s vast audience to influence the midterms. The DNC maintains an official TikTok account. Last December, the White House also hosted its first holiday party exclusively for content creators.

TikTok has become a powerful tool for campaigning. 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, such as Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), have made TikTok integral to their campaigning efforts. One of the most popular lawmakers on TikTok is Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-N.C.), who has amassed a following of over 2.5 million by posting regular videos about the top news.

“Last election, there was still an open question: Could influencers move the needle on political campaigns?” Daniel Daks, founder of the talent management firm Palette, who helped organize the TikTok creators’ trip to Washington to meet Biden and former president Barack Obama, said last year. “It’s been answered pretty solidly with a yes.”

Last year, The Washington Post reported that some Democrats worried the crackdown on TikTok could hurt the party’s ability to reach younger voters. “Ditching something that has proven to be incredibly helpful to winning elections is like shooting yourself in the foot,” said Aidan Kohn-Murphy, the founder of Gen-Z for Change, a coalition of creators formerly known as TikTok for Biden.

However, more recently, many young TikTok creators have used the platform to be critical of Biden. They’ve railed against his policies on climate change, the war in Gaza and failure to contain the pandemic. Last year, many young activists attempted to leverage TikTok to get the Biden administration to stop the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska. Their campaign was unsuccessful, however TikTok has remained a powerful political platform and hub for progressive activism.

In January, Biden’s reelection campaign announced they were seeking a director of digital partnerships to work 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’s 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 a specific team at the White House dedicated to forging partnerships with content creators.

“The work we do with creators has the most upside and potential of all the communications methods we employ,” Tom said. “Whether it’s spicy tweets from @WhiteHouse, or our work with creators, it’s about how we can find a way to appear in the feed in a way that feels authentic, organic and ultimately surprises you.”

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

Tyler Pager contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post
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