Hawley calls out Biden campaign for using TikTok after president signed law banning it from federal devices

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., called out the Biden-Harris campaign for joining TikTok on Super Bowl Sunday, after the administration signed legislation banning the app from most federal devices in 2022.

“Hey by the way, we just joined TikTok,” the campaign’s post on X read on Sunday, with the campaign’s first TikTok video of the president answering quizzes about the Super Bowl. 

“Biden campaign bragging about using a Chinese spy app even though Biden signed a law banning it on all federal devices,” Hawley wrote on X in response to the campaign’s post.

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Sen. Josh Hawley, right, called out the Biden-Harris campaign for joining TikTok on Super Bowl Sunday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The Biden administration set a 30-day deadline in late February 2023 for government agencies to purge the app, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, from federal devices. 

Several Republicans have urged Congress to ban the app in the U.S. entirely because of reports the app steals Americans’ data and poses a national security threat. In 2017, China began enforcing a law mandating companies to provide the government with any personal data pertinent to the regime’s national security.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has also called for a nationwide ban on TikTok, saying last month that the CEO is “lying” about the app being safe for users. 

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China spy scare

The flag of China is flown behind a pair of surveillance cameras outside the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Roy Liu/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“We should ban it,” Hawley previously told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “It tracks everything you do on your phone. It tracks everywhere you go, every text message you send, every email you write, and it’s — all that information — all of it’s available to the Chinese Communist Party.

Cotton appeared to weigh in Monday on the Biden campaign joining TikTok, writing, “Just like TikTok, Temu or any Chinese tech company must allow the Communist Party unfettered access to its data. This should be a non-starter for doing business in the United States.”

Senator Tom Cotton

Sen. Tom Cotton is pictured in the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, July 12, 2023. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The app is vastly popular among young voters, and Biden’s campaign team will be running the president’s account. The campaign also has a presence on other social media platforms, including X, Instagram, Meta’s Threads and former President Trump’s Truth Social. 

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The FBI and the Federal Communications Commission have both reportedly cautioned that ByteDance may potentially share user data — including browsing history, location information, and biometric identifiers such as fingerprints, facial features, iris patterns, voice prints — with the Chinese Communist Party. 

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government agency that reviews national security implications of foreign investments in the U.S. has been investigating TikTok since 2019. 

The Biden-Harris campaign said they will be posting content regularly on all platforms, including TikTok. 

“We are taking advanced safety precautions around our devices and incorporating a sophisticated security protocol to ensure security. The campaign’s presence is independent and apart from the ongoing CFIUS review,” a campaign adviser said in an email. “The campaign will continue meeting voters where they are, innovating to create content that will resonate with critical audiences and the core constituencies that make up the president’s diverse and broad coalition of voters.”

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