'lol hey': Biden's reelection campaign joins TikTok to try reaching young voters

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President Joe Biden's campaign officially launched a TikTok account on Sunday as part of his reelection bid and posted for the first time on the platform that's broiled in controversy.

The first video, captioned "lol hey guys" on the account, @BidenHQ, was all about the Super Bowl. Someone off camera asks the president "this or that" questions. Like, "Game or commercials?" or "Jason Kelce or Travis Kelce?"

The video also makes fun of the conspiracy theory that Biden rigged Sunday's game.

"Deviously plotting to rig the season so the Chiefs would make the Super Bowl or the Chiefs just being a good football team?" asks the person.

"I'd get in trouble if I told you," Biden replies. The video then cuts to his profile picture, a black and white photo of Biden smiling with red lasers shooting out of his eyes.

The TikTok account is the campaign's latest effort to reach young voters, but the app has been steeped in controversy due to its ties to the Chinese company, ByteDance.

From creating TikTok bans to making content

The campaign move comes after the Biden Administration threatened to ban the app in the United States in early 2023 if its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, didn't sell its stake in the company.

Last year, the campaign said it would not join the social media app, reported NBC News, but the campaign says it joined TikTok to take advantage of all the tools available to it.

"In a media ecosystem that is more fragmented and personalized than ever, it's even more important to get our message across every channel and every platform possible," advisors for the Biden campaign told Axios on Monday.

In November, a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, blocked a TikTok ban in Montana because it "likely violates the First Amendment."

Despite ongoing review, an all-out ban on the company for the entire country has not happened. But the president's administration did sign the "No TikTok on Government Devices Act," which doesn't allow the app to be downloaded on any government-issued devices.

According to a tweet from NPR's White House correspondent, Asma Khalid, Biden's campaign advisors said they are taking "advanced safety precautions" when it comes to the security around their devices and using a sophisticated security protocol.

"The campaign’s presence is independent and apart from the ongoing (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) review,” said the campaign's advisors.

Gen Z and memes

TikTok is the third most used app among Gen Zers, according to Later. The outlet used the data from a recent Morning Consult report.

However, YouTube and Instagram take first and second place. The Biden re-election campaign has accounts on both of those platforms, but they are not new. The campaign can also be found on Truth Social, where it has over 86,000 followers.

According to data from the Pew Research Center, Gen Zers are progressive and pro-government, like Millenials. But research from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, CIRCLE, states that Gen Z is leading social movements and voting at higher rates than older generations were at the same age.

"In the next presidential election, 40.8 million members of Gen Z (ages 18-27 in 2024) will be eligible to vote, including 8.3 million newly eligible youth (ages 18-19 in 2024) who will have aged into the electorate since the 2022 midterm election," stated the research organization.

The campaign's Instagram, TikTok and Truth Social accounts try to adopt the "Dark Brandon" meme aesthetic, Biden's cooler alter-ego the internet created over a year ago from the "Let's go, Brandon," chants to celebrate his policy wins and reclaim the phrase, reported Vox.

According to Data Dab, memes are a huge part of internet culture, so it's no wonder why the Biden Campaign is trying to take advantage of the president's memeability.

The fact that folks can easily share memes allows them to reach Gen Z and Millenials quicker and engages the target audience in ways other forms of traditional advertising wouldn't.

Contributing: Bailey Schulz

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden's reelection campaign on TikTok despite controversy