TikTok ban could cost Trump millions of votes, company tells campaign

TikTok logo
TikTok logo (Image credit: TikTok)

What you need to know

  • TikTok is lobbying Washington over a proposed ban on the app in the U.S.
  • Lobbyists from the company have told the Trump campaign the move could cost the president millions of votes in the November election.
  • They say some of TikTok's largest markets are key battleground states in the election.

Lobbyists from TikTok have told the Trump campaign that a move to ban the app in the United States could cost the President millions of votes in the upcoming election.

According to Bloomberg:

TikTok lobbyists told Trump campaign officials that an all-out ban on the app could sour millions of voters against him in the November election, taking aim at one of the president's top concerns, according to people familiar with the matter.

The report says that the company has explained to campaign officials "how the app works in detail", and how it has more than 100 million U.S. users, many of whom are of voting age.

According to the report, "recent briefings" to campaign staff highlighted that TikTok's largest markets in the country are very important battleground states in the election such as Florida. Lobbyists also reportedly tried to point out that Trump supporters on the app have been "increasingly active", videos with the hashtag #Trump2020 have clocked more than 10 billion views on the app, five times that of #Biden2020.

The report continues:

After President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok last month, the app was flooded with videos of users crying and telling their friends to go out and vote against Trump in retaliation for taking aim at their digital hangout.

The report says that it is unclear whether this information was passed from the Trump campaign on to the administration or the president, and that it was further unclear whether any of these considerations have affected recent moves over banning the app or a possible sale of its U.S. operations to a company like Microsoft or Oracle.

A Trump campaign spokeswoman said:

"President Trump's job is to protect Americans and stand up to China as they attempt to steal users' data and spread propaganda – and he will not shirk that responsibility just because of an election"

In a fairly surprising move yesterday, the Department of Commerce announced that TikTok would be banned from U.S. app stores from tomorrow, September 20 and that as of November the app will stop working in the country altogether unless it can come to an arrangement to resolve national security concerns over the app. Until yesterday, it was expected that TikTok would be able to get around recent executive orders banning the app if it could arrange a successful acquisition. This is why ByteDance is considering selling its U.S. operation to an American company. As noted, save a miracle, TikTok will disappear from app stores in the U.S. from tomorrow, and further provisions from the Department of Commerce ensure it will stop working in the country from November.

Stephen Warwick