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Trump calls it an 'honor' to join TikTok after previously trying to ban the app

In this photo illustration, the TikTok app is seen on a phone on March 13, 2024 in New York City. In less than 24 hours, former President Donald Trump amassed 2 million followers on the app.
Michael M. Santiago
/
Getty Images North America
In this photo illustration, the TikTok app is seen on a phone on March 13, 2024 in New York City. In less than 24 hours, former President Donald Trump amassed 2 million followers on the app.

Former President Donald Trump is now on TikTok after previously seeking to ban the popular video-streaming app over national security concerns when he was in office.

Trump posted his first video to the app while attending an Ultimate Fighting Championship match in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday. In the video, Trump is accompanied by UFC president and longtime ally Dana White.

“The president is now on TikTok,” White said.

"It's my honor," Trump replied.

In 2020, Trump sought to clamp down on TikTok through executive action due to fears that the Chinese government could access sensitive American user data on the app, which is owned by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance. Federal courts later blocked that effort.

More recently, Trump has distanced himself from the push to ban the app, telling CNBC in March that even though he still considers it a national security threat, getting rid of it would only empower Facebook.

"Without TikTok, you can make Facebook bigger, and I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people," Trump said.

Trump's emergence on the platform comes as the former president's own social media platform, Truth Social, faces new pressure after a New York jury found him guilty on Thursday of falsifying business records in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump has long denied any wrongdoing and has made clear he will appeal the historic verdict.

While some Trump supporters have doubled down and bought more shares of the former president's social media platform, the stock fell 5% overall on the day after the verdict, and in the first quarter alone the company lost over $300 million.

Joining TikTok may not help Truth Social's bottom line, it could prove to be an important avenue for Trump as he looks to cut into the edge Democrats traditionally enjoy among young voters ahead of the election. Nearly a third of Americans under 30 say they get their news from TikTok, according to the Pew Research Center.

In less than 24 hours, Trump amassed 2 million followers. His one and only video racked up over 34 million views as of Sunday afternoon.

The Biden campaign has also created a TikTok account back in February, although the Biden administration has raised similar concerns about the app as it relates to privacy and national security.

In April, Biden signed into law bipartisan legislation that would ban the platform in the U.S. unless its sold to a non-Chinese company within nine months, with the possibility of a three month extension if a sale is in the works.

TikTok is now challenging the law in federal court, calling it an unconstitutional violation of free speech. The company says there is no evidence that the Chinese government has ever influenced what Americans see on the app, nor any proof that officials in China have spied on U.S. citizens through TikTok.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.
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