Amid Calls for TikTok Ban, White House Courts Influencers

The buzz around TikTok Ban due to threat to national security is also growing in Washington D.C. However, the White House is doing a bit of a two-step. On the one hand, they advocate for a TikTok ban. On the other, the administration held private meetings with influencers behind closed doors, recruiting them to help boost President Joe Biden’s chances for re-election.

Although the White House unreasonably argues that TikTok compromises the nation’s security, President Biden is seeking backing from the most prominent TikTok influencers. This was particularly evident prior to Biden’s State of the Union address at the White House last month, when he joked with the influencers, who were standing on a White House balcony, ““Don’t jump, I need you instead!”

As such, the president strategically connected with the younger target audience, who usually ignore traditional media in favour of digital interaction. The White House has hosted TikTok celebrities with millions of followers since as long as September last year. From family man Jason Linton to rapper Michael Junchaya to theater enthusiast Mona Swain.

The administration has undoubtedly stepped up efforts to capitalise on TikTok’s extensive reach to make a direct play for younger voters . Leading the operation is Morgan MacNaughton, the White House Deputy Director of Partnerships, who used to head Palette, the social media company dedicated to promoting well-known TikTok celebrities.

As mentioned earlier, this initiative has not come without backlash. Critics claim that the White House’s attempts to push the potential TikTok ban while employing its influencers send mixed signals that could irreparably harm the nation’s and the world’s impressions .

However, the president’s administration was adamant in the defense of its decision. Senior Adviser to the President Anita Dunn remarked that it was crucial to involve influencers in order to connect with the new audience demographics, while the President’s Director of the Office of Digital Strategy Christian Tom called MacNaughton’s involvement in the operation pivot.

As it is, the standpoint on the potential TikTok ban is somewhat divisive for the American public, while older generations are inherently in favor due to security matters, young people feel encroached upon due to threats to their “digital freedom of speech .”

Concerns from the influencers’ end revolve around a potential backlash from the ban, which might ultimately diminish their authority due to inhibited reach. Whether the White House will succeed is still unknown. However, the development of this trend will be interesting to watch due to its multifaceted nature which includes constant balancing between security threats and political dances intertwined with tech development.

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