Trump Joins TikTok, an App He Once Tried to Ban

Jeff Bottari/Getty Images
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Onetime president and newly convicted felon Donald Trump joined TikTok on Saturday, despite once trying to ban the app in the U.S. via executive order.

Trump launched his account on the video-sharing platform late Saturday night with a single video, apparently filmed at the UFC event in New Jersey he attended that day. In the first frame of the 13-second video, UFC President Dana White appears alongside Trump, who wears his familiar blue suit, red tie, and mussed-looking blond coif. White introduces Trump to the platform.

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

“It’s my honor,” Trump adds, before the video cuts to several shots of Trump waving and making his entrance to the UFC event. These shots are interspersed with pans of one of Trump’s favorite things—a large, cheering crowd—and end with a last Trump quip.

“That was a good walk-on, right?” he says.

The video garnered 1.7 million likes and more than 31 million views within the first 11 hours of its posting. Several top comments from feverish supporters welcomed the felonious former president to the app, voicing their support for the spray-tanned titan.

Although Trump attempted to ban or force the sale of TikTok while he was in office in 2020—a move that was later blocked in court—he switched his stance abruptly when the Biden administration successfully passed a similar ban earlier this year. The reasons for his flip-flop, however, were as self-concerned as always: he reportedly believed a TikTok ban would ultimately benefit Facebook, which he still blames for his 2020 election loss.

Biden Trashes Trump’s ‘Unified Reich’ Clip on TikTok

Some Trump campaign advisers had been encouraging a TikTok presence for months, the Washington Post reported in March, believing it could help Trump capitalize on his meme-ability and reach a younger audience of voters. Steven Cheung, the Trump campaign spokesman, confirmed the move was intended to reach young voters in a statement to The Daily Beast.

“We will leave no front undefended and this represents the continued outreach to a younger audience consuming pro-Trump and anti-Biden content,” Cheung said.

Of course, Trump’s entry onto TikTok means that both presumptive presidential candidates are now active users on an app they’ve both tried to ban while in office. It also demonstrates how seriously the septuagenarian and octogenarian candidates are vying for a Gen Z and younger millennial vote, despite recent polling that shows they’re most likely to be “double haters” of both Joe Biden and Trump—and the most likely age group to say they’re voting for RFK Jr. (Gulp.)

If there is a winner in all of this, it may just be TikTok. Even as both camps have expressed concerns over the platform’s potential to be weaponized by China, neither candidate wants to campaign without it. For now, the summer presidential race is in the digital arena of the memes.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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