U.S regulators and educators are gunning for TikTok. But the short-form video app may have an ace up its sleeve ... the youth vote.
TikTok has it hard in the US at the moment with regulators and educators alike looking to axe the fun-lovin’ short-form video app.
ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, has spent the past three years trying to convince the Committee on Foreign Investment that, as a foreign company it presents no national security threat.
The U.S. House of Representatives isn’t hanging about for the outcome of the CFIUS review, though. It’s already banned the download of TikTok on officially-managed devices. Dozens of US schools, universities have moved to ban the app. There’s talk of an outright nation-wide ban on the app, too.
TikTok may have an ace up its sleeve, however: young voters.
President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to strengthen links with the youth vote by cosying up with TikTok creators.
Last march 30 top TikTok influencers attended a Biden White House press conference. The Zoom call was hosted by White House press secretary Jen Psaki. Its purpose: to provide key information about the war unfolding in Ukraine. The creators were briefed about the United States’ strategic goals in the region, and had questions answered on distributing aid to Ukrainians, working with NATO and how the US would react to a Russian use of nuclear weapons.
In October over 20 content creators joined U.S. President Biden to mark the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats' signature spending package. The influencers received special invitations as part of a White House strategy to reach younger people where they are: On social media.
At the end of the month eight TikTok stars were flown to Washington DC by the Democratic National Committee, in a bid to tap into the youth vote ahead of the country’s midterm elections. Young creators on the Washington trip enjoyed time in the Oval Office with President Biden, as well as an hour with former President Obama. The influencers were shown both the Supreme Court and the Capitol. They met with leaders of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “We know people listen to trusted messengers, and as an increasing number of young people turn to Instagram, TikTok and other platforms for news and information, we need to engage with the voices they trust directly,” - Rob Flaherty, the White House director of digital strategy, was quoted as saying in a Washington Post article at the time.
Young voters had a significant effect on the 2022 midterms recording the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades, according to Tufts University. Youth turnout was especially high in some battleground states. Voters under 30 years old are increasing their electoral participation, leading movements, and making their voices heard on key issues that affect their communities.
And, young voters are more likely to be Democrat voters - by 28-Point Margin. The national youth vote choice for the U.S. House of Representatives was 63% for Democrats, 35% for Republicans, according to the Edison Research National Election Pool exit poll. Killing off TikTok would be to kill off access to the youth vote. And what politician would wish for that?