1710169846 How TikTok is being used as Joe Bidens new campaign

How TikTok is being used as Joe Biden’s ‘new campaign stunt’

Four years ago, Donald Trump wanted TikTok sold because of the medium’s (dis)dependence on China. Now Joe Biden wants this too: is this a campaign stunt?

The US presidential election is coming up and we can pretty much say that Joe Biden will be running against Donald Trump. Once again, TikTok seems to become part of this battle.

No, it is not about campaign videos on TikTok, but about the medium itself. This is in Chinese hands and after Donald Trump, Joe Biden is now afraid that owner ByteDance cannot allow the company to operate independently from the Chinese government. He therefore wants the company sold.

TikTok as ‘foreign adversary’

In itself, it is not unreasonable to have concerns about this. Many young people and children are active on TikTok. You don’t want their data to be accessible to a foreign government.

To prevent that, the U.S. House of Representatives is voting next week on apps from foreign adversaries to be banned. This should allow the country’s security to be better protected. Beyond a certain number of users, these apps should be banned.

How TikTok is being used as Joe Biden's new campaign stuntTikTok on your iPhone (Image: Unsplash)

The United States sees China as a “foreign adversary,” so it wants to crack down on TikTok right away. If the medium falls under this law, companies will be given 165 days to sell the app. Failure to do so will result in the app being blocked in the United States.

Back in 2020, then-President Donald Trump wanted the U.S. branch of TikTok to be sold. Big companies like Walmart, Microsoft and Oracle were all too eager to get their hands on the app. Yet this did not go through, as Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, and therefore ByteDance did not have to get rid of the app.

Joe Biden to replace Donald Trump as ByteDance executioner

Now, with this bill, things seem to be changing after all. And that is remarkable, since, as with the previous attempt, it is election time again. So it seems another ideal tool as a campaign stunt. It allows Joe Biden to present himself as the president who protects the United States from Chinese influence. But if he wants that so badly, why didn’t he push through Trump’s decision?

Yet things are going just a bit differently than before. Donald Trump wanted to pass the decision regarding TikTok by executive order, while Biden supports an idea that must pass through the House of Representatives. A two-thirds majority is needed to pass the law.

How TikTok is being used as Joe Biden's new campaign stuntDonald Trump is happy about it. (Image: AFP / Alex Edelman)

In addition, Joe Biden has been at it a little longer. Last year, ByteDance chief Shou Chew was allowed to defend TikTok before the US Congress. So now it looks like it may finally be happening.

Yet something else is also playing out in the background in terms of elections. Does Joe Biden dare just ban a popular medium among young voters? It could affect popularity and so it is quite sensitive.

TikTok is already banned in these countries

Joe Biden’s United States would not be the first country to ban the service. In India, TikTok has been banned since 2020 and in Afghanistan, residents have not been allowed to use the app since 2022. The app is also already banned in the U.S. app Montana. In several countries (including the Netherlands), the app is banned only on the phones of government employees.

Meanwhile, the first interested party has already come forward to buy TikTok. Former Activision-Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick would like to take over the company in cooperation with a group of partners. To that end, he has already contacted ByteDance.


This is ByteDance

Founded in 2012, ByteDance is one of China’s largest tech companies. In addition to TikTok, it also owns the China popular app Douyin. The company manages to impress especially with its algorithm and artificial intelligence. Yet there are also quite a few concerns. Because of legislation, the Chinese government can exert influence over the company, potentially allowing it to see personal data of non-Chinese people.

It remains to be seen, however, whether many people are waiting for Kotick. He is not a foreign threat, of course, but he does have something on his record. He created a toxic work culture at the game company, which included sexual harassment and discrimination. The company even reached a $54 million settlement for that. So the first thing Microsoft did when it acquired Activision-Blizzard was to throw Kotick out.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump agree for a change

Therefore, with both Democrats and Republicans all too eager to get rid of TikTok, it seems only a matter of time before the law is passed. The big question is which other companies and individuals will come forward to take over (at least) the U.S. branch.

The consequences for the Netherlands are still difficult to predict. Should only the American branch be taken over, the Chinese ByteDance will still remain in charge in the Netherlands. However, it seems more likely that it will then be a global sale, should it really go ahead. Nonetheless, the main thing now is to wait and see if the ban actually comes about under Joe Biden.

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