Donald Trump's campaign team are now attempting to discredit one of the few social media platforms that the president hasn't managed to fully utilise to his advantage.
Several adverts posted on the president's Facebook and Instagram page have appeared in the past few days accusing China of using the popular TikTok app to spy on the United States. Numerous anti-TikTok adverts, some of which have been removed, prompt users to 'protect our kids from China' in an attempt to get the app banned in the United States. All the adverts link to a petition about banning TikTok in the US.
Trump has declared that he is trying to get the app banned in retaliation to China "allowing coronavirus to spread throughout the world". TikTok was developed in China by ByteDance Ltd and has since become a massive success, however concerns have been raised about it. This month, India became one of the first countries to ban the app. TikTok denies all allegations of spying.
TikTok users have also caused the Trump campaign headaches.
The app has been used as something akin to a rallying cry for teenagers and K-Pop fa s who have been trolling the president in the lead-up to the election with all manner of stunts.
Mobilising their followers, some users have been posting videos encouraging others to pretend to buy Trump merchandise without actually paying for it, leave negative reviews of his campaign app as well as bad reviews of his various businesses. The most successful of the stunts was when teenagers managed to obtain tickets to his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma but didn't attend leaving the arena barely full. At the time, Trump's team denied that the poor attendance was down to the influencers on the app.
Tim Murtaugh, the director of communications for the Trump Campaign said:
TikTok users don’t affect anything we do. What we do know is that the Chinese use TikTok to spy on its users.
Again, TikTok denies allegations of spying. But some TikTok users already appear worried that Trump might be successful in his attempt to get the app banned, encouraging people to follow them on other platforms.
This is unlikely to be the last time that we hear of Trump's crusade against TikTok. Although they might deny it, it looks like him and his team are worried about the power of teens.