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Biden Admin Keeps Softening TikTok Stance As Company’s Influence Campaign Grows

  • President Joe Biden's re-election campaign announced its participation on TikTok on Sunday, despite having previously decided not to use the platform for campaign messaging.
  • The Biden administration has permanently banned the app from federal government devices, citing vocal concerns that the app is a national security risk and is being used by the Chinese government to collect user data. .
  • “Rather than legitimize the platform by participating in this harmful tool of the Chinese Communist Party, Joe Biden should make it illegal in the United States,” said Mark, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Dubowitz told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Biden administration has tempered its enthusiasm for TikTok even as Chinese companies continue to expand their influence in the United States.

President Joe Biden's re-election campaign announced Unlike before, he joined TikTok on Sunday. report I don't think that will happen. Despite the Biden administration's promise to crack down on TikTok, which is owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance, the company has so far avoided repercussions or a nationwide ban as it seeks to expand its influence in Washington. ing. (Related: IRS employees still have access to TikTok despite government ban, watchdog finds)

“By the way, we just joined TikTok,” the Biden-Harris campaign said in an He posted a TikTok video of Biden sharing his thoughts on NFL games. Kansas City Chiefs. “Lol, hey guys.” read Video caption.

Several experts and lawmakers felt the Biden campaign's decision to join TikTok was inappropriate.

“In the best-case scenario, TikTok is spyware for the Chinese Communist Party, which is why the government has banned TikTok from official phones. In the worst-case scenario, TikTok is probably the largest negative operation ever carried out. ” House CCP Select Subcommittee Chairman Mike Gallagher told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “You don't have to take my word for it. This is the message Congress has heard over and over again from senior national security officials in the Biden administration.”Despite these warnings, how the Biden campaign will embrace TikTok It's really mind-boggling that I was able to do that.”

Biden's re-election campaign had previously decided not to create or use a TikTok account, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter who spoke to NBC News. Biden's first presidential campaign in 2020 did not even consider using TikTok, citing the national security risks associated with the app.

Biden said during his 2020 campaign that he viewed TikTok as a “real concern.” according to to Reuters. This was announced by the Biden administration and intelligence agencies. Concerns TikTok may be sharing user data with ByteDance, which the Chinese Communist Party has access to.

“This is a tool that is ultimately under the control of the Chinese government, and to me it screams national security concerns,” FBI Director Chris Wray told Congress. hearing In March 2023.

Biden signed legislation in December 2022 banning TikTok from all federally owned devices, except for some intelligence and research purposes. according to To the Associated Press. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) blackmailed If ByteDance does not sell the app, TikTok will be banned nationwide.

“TikTok is a national security threat and rightly should be banned from federal devices,” Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Joe Biden should make this harmful tool of the Chinese Communist Party illegal in the United States, not legitimize its platform by joining the Chinese Communist Party.”

ByteDance is still open own TikTok and the Biden administration have not banned the app. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who oversees CFIUS, acknowledged that concerns surrounding TikTok and its potential violations of user privacy “have not yet been resolved.” interview Performed with CNBC in November.

ByteDance is trying to quell U.S. concerns by spending $1.5 billion on an isolated data hub in Texas, specifically to protect U.S. user data. But according to an internal memo reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Tikok intentionally directed employees to circumvent this obstacle and send user data back to ByteDance by bypassing authorized channels. It is said that there is.

The Biden administration resumed negotiations with TikTok in September, six months after CFIUS issued threats against the company.

Biden and his administration have avoided bringing up the issue in meetings with Chinese government officials. Reuters reported that Yellen said TikTok was “not a clear topic of discussion” between Biden and President Xi Jinping during their November meeting. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo had planned not to touch on the topic ahead of her visit to Beijing in August 2023.

TikTok and ByteDance are increasing their influence and lobbying efforts in Washington. ByteDance spent approximately $8.7 million lobbying the U.S. Congress and the federal government. according to To open secret. This figure is nearly double the $4.9 million ByteDance spent on lobbying in 2022.

TikTok also hired SKDK, considered the most powerful and best-connected Democratic consulting firm in Washington, in 2023 to strengthen its communications and public relations efforts. according to Go to Politico. SKDK employs a significant number of former senior Biden aides and staff. In the past, Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, Kate Varner, former White House communications director, and Interior Department spokesperson Tyler Cherry have worked for the company.

Anita Dunn, a longtime senior adviser and aide to the president, is a founding member of SKDK, according to Politico. Dunn will leave SKDK in May 2023 and return to the White House to serve as a senior advisor to Biden.

TikTok and SKDK will end their partnership in April 2023, company spokesperson Said The Washington Post at the time.

White House Said “Nothing” on Monday [has] “We have changed our stance on the national security concerns surrounding TikTok,” he said, but declined to comment on the Biden campaign's use of TikTok.

“I cannot and will not speak for the campaign,” White House National Security Council Press Secretary John Kirby said at a press conference Monday. “From the NSC's perspective regarding the use of TikTok on government devices, the national security concerns have not changed.”

Kirby acknowledged that a CFIUS investigation into TikTok is ongoing, but declined to comment on whether the Biden administration is considering an outright ban on the app.

“I'm not going to talk about a hypothetical ban. All I can say is that it's not allowed on government equipment,” Kirby said at a news conference. “That policy remains unchanged. I can't speak for the campaign or their decisions. I'm sorry.”

TikTok is still available for download across the U.S., with the exception of Montana, which banned the app state-wide in April 2023.

The Biden campaign and ByteDance did not respond to requests for comment.

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