The chair of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, a senior Democrat, said he is concerned about the decision by the campaign of president Joe Biden to join TikTok.
On Sunday, Biden’s reelection campaign used the Super Bowl to kick off its new TikTok account in an effort to reach young voters ahead of the presidential election in November.
The campaign’s launch on TikTok is notable given that the app, which is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, is under review in the US due to potential national security concerns. Some US lawmakers have called for the app to be banned over concerns that the Chinese government could access user data or influence what people see on the app.
On Monday, Democratic senator Mark Warner said he was concerned about the national security implications.
“I think that we still need to find a way to follow India, which has prohibited TikTok,” Warner said. “I’m a little worried about a mixed message.”
A number of Republican lawmakers have also criticised the campaign’s decision to join TikTok.
White House spokesperson John Kirby said nothing has changed regarding the “national security concerns … about the use of TikTok on government devices. That policy is still in place.”
Last year, the Biden administration ordered government agencies to remove TikTok from federal government-owned phones and devices.
TikTok has maintained that it would not share US user data with the Chinese government and has taken substantial measures to protect the privacy of its users. The company did not immediately respond to a request from the Reuters news agency for comment.
The Biden campaign said in a statement it would “continue meeting voters where they are,” including on other social media apps like Meta’s Instagram and Truth Social, which was founded by former president Donald Trump.
The campaign is taking “advanced safety precautions” for its devices and its presence on TikTok was separate from the app’s ongoing security review, a campaign official added.
The US Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in March 2023 demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners sell their shares, or face the possibility of the app being banned, but the administration has taken no action.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday that the review by CFIUS is ongoing and noted the White House previously endorsed legislation introduced by Warner and others to give the administration new tools to address threats posed by foreign-owned apps.
Last month, TikTok told Congress that 170 million Americans now use the short video platform, up from 150 million a year earlier.
Reuters contributed to this report