Donald Trump Joins TikTok, App He Had Tried to Ban as President Citing ‘Credible’ Threat to U.S. National Security

Donald Trump gained millions of followers on TikTok in the hours after launching an account on the short-form video app — which, when he occupied the White House, he had threatened with a nationwide ban unless Chinese internet giant ByteDance sold control of TikTok to U.S.-based entities.

Trump’s first TikTok on @realdonaldtrump, posted late Saturday night (June 1), shows the ex-president greeting fans at the UFC 302 fight in Newark, N.J. “The president is now on TikTok,” UFC CEO Dana White says in the video. “It’s my honor,” says Trump, who is running again for U.S. president in 2024 against President Biden.

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About 13 hours after Trump’s TikTok account launched, it had attracted more than 2 million followers.

As president, Trump was unsuccessful in attempts to force ByteDance to sell majority control in TikTok to U.S. owners. “There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” Trump said in an executive order issued in August 2020.

Trump’s launch on TikTok came two days after a New York jury found him guilty on 34 charges of falsifying business records, making him the first former U.S. president to be a convicted felon. A spokesman for the Trump campaign said it will leave “no front undefended” and that the launch on TikTok “represents the continued outreach to a younger audience consuming pro-Trump and anti-Biden content,” per Reuters.

Biden’s re-election campaign launched an account on TikTok in February. That was just over two months before he signed a new measure into law that would force ByteDance to divest its stake in TikTok to an entity or entities not based in a country the U.S. designates a “foreign adversary”; if ByteDance doesn’t, the distribution of TikTok would be outlawed as early as January 2025. TikTok has sued the U.S. over the law, arguing that it is unconstitutional on its face. The bill passed through Congress with solid bipartisan support.

This March, Trump spoke out against a TikTok ban — not for First Amendment reasons but because, according to the ex-president, such a move would benefit Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta. “If you get rid of TikTok, Facebook and Zuckerschmuck will double their business,” he posted on Truth Social, calling Facebook “a true Enemy of the People!”

Steve Bannon, the right-wing media personality and one-time Trump adviser, has accused the former president of flip-flopping in his stance toward banning TikTok because of billionaire investor and major GOP donor Jeff Yass, who reportedly owns a 15% stake in ByteDance — and whose company was the biggest institutional shareholder of the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that merged with Trump Media & Technology Group, operator of the Truth Social platform. Trump has claimed that when he met with Yass they did not discuss TikTok.

Pictured above: Donald Trump attends UFC 302 at Prudential Center on June 1 in Newark, N.J.

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