Did President Biden rig the Super Bowl so the Kansas City Chiefs would win?
“I’d get in trouble if I told you,” Mr. Biden joked in his inaugural campaign post on TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media platform that has 170 million American users but few high-level American politicians.
The video then transitioned to an image of the “Dark Brandon” meme – another attempt by the campaign to turn the right-wing conspiracy theory on its head.
Mr. Biden’s arrival on TikTok, and the light-hearted nature of his posts, pointed to his ongoing attempts to rebuild his support among young voters. After weeks of aides announcing they would join the platform, his campaign hit the button on its first video during the Super Bowl on Sunday night.
The 30-second clip shows the president dodging questions from an off-screen inquisitor.
Who would win the big game? (He dodged and noted Jill Biden’s fandom for the Philadelphia Eagles.)
Which Kelce brother did he prefer? (Again the diplomatic answer: “Mama Kelce.”)
And is he really responsible for the massive conspiracy theory that has surfaced on the far right that claims the White House and the NFL colluded to get the Chiefs a game and somehow help his re-election campaign? (Say “Dark Brandon.” Mr. Biden too shared a picture of the meme on X shortly after the game, writing: “Just as we drew it.”)
Joining TikTok is a sharp turn for the Biden re-election campaign, which has officially said it doesn’t need its own TikTok account to reach voters and will instead work through influencers.
The move also comes with a degree of risk: TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance and is banned on government devices in most states and at the federal level. Republicans in particular, but also Democrats and national security experts, have expressed concern about the control China’s authoritarian government could have over the platform’s data and content shown to Americans. TikTok has put those concerns to rest.
The Biden campaign said Monday that it is taking “advanced security measures around our devices and includes a sophisticated security protocol to ensure security.”
Such wariness of the platform has contributed to the reluctance of politicians and their campaigns to join TikTok, despite the app’s growing influence. As of December, only 37 members of Congress were on the app, and there were no official accounts from @POTUS, the White House or Biden 2024, according to an analysis by The New York Times.
Among the Republican presidential candidates, only Vivek Ramaswamy had his own account. He dropped out of the race last month.
The app, once known for viral dance videos, is increasingly becoming a source of news and information, especially for younger Americans. About 14 percent of American adults said they regularly received news from TikTok last year, up from 3 percent in 2020. according to Pew Research Center.
Last month, Biden campaign officials celebrated when a TikTok video made by a North Carolina teenager whose home Mr. Biden visited attracted millions of views on the platform.
Whether the Biden campaign can make the 81-year-old president look cool on the platform remains an open question. In Sunday’s post, Mr. Biden wore khaki pants and a blue quarter-zip sweater with a microphone attached to the zipper. The questions came from Rob Flaherty, deputy campaign manager, according to a campaign official.
“The president’s TikTok debut last night — with nearly 5 million views and counting — is proof positive of our commitment and success in finding new, innovative ways to reach voters,” said Mr. Flaherty.
Acknowledging another meme, this one about men’s alleged fascination with ancient Rome, he added: “I guess you could say our Roman Empire meets voters wherever they are.
With another TikTok post on Monday, the campaign hinted at the kinds of issues it plans to highlight all year, sharing a short compilation of clips of former President Donald J. Trump boasting about his role in overturning Roe v. Wade.
Although TikTok does not allow paid political advertising, several campaigns have successfully used the app to build relationships with potential voters and win races. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pennsylvania, for example, listed TikTok among the tools he used to defeat Dr. Mehmet Oz in the 2022 elections.