Joe Biden’s ‘Cringe’ TikTok: Boost or Blow to His Image?

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In February, Joe Biden made his TikTok debut during the Super Bowl, answering quick questions and flashing the Dark Brandon meme. The video racked up over 10 million views, but some Gen Z viewers found it “cringe” and even pandering, especially after Israel’s strike on Rafah, Gaza.


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“I don’t want my president to be a TikTok influencer,” read the headline of one USA Today editorial. Biden’s welcome to the app wasn’t warm, but yet, still, Biden’s team kept posting. Despite the mixed reception, Biden’s TikTok account, Biden-Harris HQ, has posted over 150 videos, amassing 3.9 million likes and 313,000 followers.

While impressive, Biden’s TikTok presence pales compared to others like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However, engaging young voters on TikTok is important for Biden, especially with an election race against Donald Trump.

However, Biden’s support for Israel in the Gaza conflict has eroded youth support, highlighting the challenge of balancing policy with social media engagement. TikTok, popular among 18- to 24-year-olds, is a primary news source for many young people, prompting Biden to meet them where they are.

“It’s very clear to me that Biden’s primary goals on TikTok are in line with his digital goals overall: to highlight and remind folks how dangerous Trump is, and to highlight the accomplishments that Biden has made that no one knows about,” said Josh Klemons, a Democratic digital strategist.

After his Super Bowl post, Biden’s TikTok strategy pivots from pop culture, focusing on policy issues and critiquing conservatives. Over half of Biden’s content reminds viewers of Trump’s gaffes and underscores the fight for abortion rights. Klemons believes Biden’s TikTok goals align with his broader digital strategy, highlighting Trump’s record and Biden’s accomplishments. Leveraging surrogates like Sanders and AOC, the account aims to resonate with Gen Z voters.


“I like how they use younger people from their campaign to be some of the messengers,” said Ashley Aylward, a research manager at the gen Z-focused, DC-based consulting group Hit Strategies. However, serious issues like the Gaza conflict remain unaddressed in the comment section.

Aylward also suggested reducing the number of videos showing Biden campaigning directly. She noted that recent TikToks featuring Biden himself were recorded during campaign events.

Another concern arises from the irony of Biden’s team investing resources in TikTok, especially considering that just last week, Biden signed a measure that could potentially lead to the app being banned in the US. “It’s a funny position for him to be in,” Klemons remarked. “I can’t think of a situation that’s similar, where somebody is actively using a platform that they’re actively trying to get rid of. But they need to be where the people are.”

Biden could leverage the platform throughout the election cycle, as it would take a minimum of nine months for the app to be banned, if it does. Trump, who isn’t on TikTok, opposes a ban on the app.

Ultimately, Biden’s TikTok serves as another campaign mouthpiece, reminding viewers of his persona but unlikely to hinder an election alone.

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