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Donald Trump joins TikTok after seeking to ban video app as president

Former President Donald Trump has joined TikTok, the fast-growing social media platform with ties to China that Trump has publicly embraced even though he railed against it as president.

In his first post on the social network, which is filled with young potential voters, Trump posted a video after he attended an Ultimate Fighting Championship match in Newark, New Jersey, earlier in the evening. UFC CEO Dana White is featured in the video.

Trump addressed viewers directly, saying it was an “honor” to be on the app. His message was followed by a montage of cheering UFC fans.

“The president is now on TikTok,” White said at the start of the video.

Trump’s account, which carries a verified badge, currently contains just that single post. His super PAC, MAGA Inc., previously joined the platform in May. The PAC’s CEO, Taylor Budowich, posted on X at the time, “MAGA INC will not cede any platform to Joe Biden and the Democrats who are trying to destroy our country. We will ensure President Trump’s America First agenda is brought to every corner of the internet and every precinct of this country.”

The move to join TikTok underscores Trump’s recent about-face on the platform that’s popular with 170 million people in the United States. It remains smaller than competitors like Instagram and Facebook, but TikTok is faster-growing and trends younger.

During his administration, Trump amplified concerns about TikTok’s links to China as part of his broader anti-China agenda. Trump put TikTok and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, at the center of US tensions with China and pushed unsuccessfully to ban the app from the United States by executive order.

President Joe Biden and a majority of lawmakers have echoed Trump’s concern. Biden signed legislation that would force TikTok to sell to another company or face an outright ban. But Trump now says he opposes a nationwide TikTok ban, adding that such a policy would only alienate young Americans and benefit Meta.

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Defenders of the app, including TikTok itself, have said that any alleged national security risks linked to the app are purely hypothetical and there has been no publicly presented evidence suggesting the Chinese government has accessed the personal data of TikTok’s US users.

On Saturday, Trump’s launch on TikTok — days after his New York criminal conviction — seemed to reinforce his transformation. As of Sunday morning, his TikTok account has more than 650,000 followers and his launch video has been viewed more than 6 million times.

The Biden campaign, for its part, also has a presence on TikTok and has continued to post on the platform even as the Biden administration has supported a nationwide TikTok ban.

TikTok has filed a legal challenge to the law Biden signed in April that would ban the app unless it finds a new owner. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for September.

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