Why Biden and some state governors are still using TikTok even as US seeks to ban app

via scmp.com

Associated Press –

POV: You’re on TikTok, and so is your governor – even as your legislature considers banning the app from state-owned devices and networks.

Efforts to ban TikTok over security concerns about China’s influence through the platform have picked up steam in the past year in state legislatures, with an expansive ban even proposed by Congress. In Pennsylvania, forward movement on a bill that first unanimously passed the state Senate last year could send legislation to the Democratic governor’s desk imminently.

But even as the app faces scrutiny and bans, governors and state agencies – and even President Joe Biden – are still using the app to promote their initiatives and expand their voting pool. Their target is the youth vote, or the people who largely make up the app’s US user base of 170 million.

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, is a prolific poster, with his efforts beginning on the campaign trail through a personal account. The first-termer is a rising star in the Democratic Party and is among governors building national profiles and possibly positioning themselves for a 2028 run for the White House.

His careful messaging extends to his official governor account on TikTok. All coloured with his priorities and stances, videos have him taking part in viral trends, breaking down aspects of his budget proposal, and even taking a dig at Texas via a Beyoncé song.

Other governors use TikTok accounts – among verified accounts, only Democrats – even in states that have banned the app from state devices and networks.

It isn’t surprising that politicians do use TikTok so much, said Anupam Chander, visiting scholar at the Institute for Rebooting Social Media at Harvard University. It’s more surprising that they don’t.

Such outreach draws its lineage to President Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats, when Depression-era Americans would gather around the radio to hear his voice. More recently, social media has been galvanised in elections, like former president Barack Obama on Facebook in 2008, or former president Donald Trump on Twitter, now X, in 2016.

“This is an app that can be very personal. You can share your walk to the Senate chambers or your exhilaration as a vote is passed. Or your disappointment when a vote fails,” he said. “This is a way to reach people in a very personal way.”