Trump joins TikTok, surpassing Biden campaign’s followers

Former President Trump joined the social media platform TikTok on Saturday, surpassing the Biden campaign’s followers in less than 24 hours since launching the account.

Trump and his team posted their first video to TikTok on Saturday night, featuring the former president alongside Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White at a UFC title fight in New Jersey.

The video started with White telling the camera, “The President is now on TikTok,” and Trump following it up with, “It’s my honor.” The 13-second video then cuts to Trump walking into Saturday night’s bout at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., and greeting fans and other audience members.

The video amassed more than 2.3 million likes and 38 million views in less than 15 hours as of Sunday at 2 p.m. Trump’s account gained more than 2.2 million followers — more than six times the followers of the Biden-Harris HQ account, which was started in February.

Trump, while president, attempted to ban TikTok in an executive order that sought to force TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell its U.S. assets. The order was later blocked in court.

In a drastic shift, Trump opposed the latest efforts to ban TikTok this year, claiming it would benefit Facebook, which banned him in January 2021 in the wake of the Capitol riots. He placed the blame on President Biden as legislation to potentially ban the app made its way through Congress and to the president’s desk amid growing national security concerns over the app’s ties to China.

The bill was quickly signed by Biden in late April, establishing a timeline for ByteDance to sell the app or face a ban from U.S. app stores and networks.

Trump’s super PAC, MAGA Inc., joined TikTok last month under the handle @MAGA. It has more than 17,000 followers and has amassed more than 176,000 likes since its launch, as of Sunday.

“MAGA INC will not cede any platform to Joe Biden and the Democrats who are trying to destroy our country,” Taylor Budowich, CEO of MAGA Inc., said last month of the super PAC’s TikTok launch. “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 the platform could signal an attempt to engage with younger voters ahead of November as Trump and Biden remain neck and neck in national polling.

“We will leave no front undefended and this represents the continued outreach to a younger audience consuming pro-Trump and anti-Biden content. There’s no place better than a UFC event to launch President Trump’s Tik Tok, where he received a hero’s welcome and thousands of fans cheered him on,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement to The Hill.

“The video he posted went immediately viral garnering 40 million views in just a few hours as he has gained 2.5 million followers since the launch,” Cheung added.

Even in the wake of mounting legal battles, Trump has maintained a razor-thin lead of 1.5 points over Biden nationally, according to a polling index by The Hill and Decision Desk HQ.

The social media launch comes just days after Trump was convicted on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in New York, becoming the first former U.S. president to become a convicted felon.

The charges were related to reimbursements made to Trump’s former fixer and attorney, Michael Cohen, for a hush money payment he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

He is slated to be sentenced on July 11, four days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wis. Trump’s legal team has vowed to appeal the case, though proceedings will move forward as scheduled in the meantime.

Updated at 4:27 pm.

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