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Donald Trump joins TikTok and quickly gains more than a million followers

REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID / MAY 31 Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a press conference at Trump Tower in New York City.

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REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID / MAY 31

Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a press conference at Trump Tower in New York City.

Within hours of joining TikTok, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had attracted more than 1.3 million followers on the short-form video social media platform that he tried to ban as president on national security grounds.

The decision to join the platform Saturday could help the former president reach younger voters in his third bid for the White House. He is in a close race with Democratic incumbent Joe Biden ahead of the November 5 presidential election.

Biden’s election campaign is already running on TikTok, although Biden has signed a bill that would ban the app, used by 170 million Americans, if Chinese owner ByteDance fails to divest it.

Trump posted a launch video to his account on Saturday evening, using the handle @realdonaldtrump. The video showed Trump greeting fans at an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout in Newark, New Jersey.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said “no front will be left undefended and this represents the continued reach of younger audiences consuming pro-Trump and anti-Biden content.”

ByteDance is challenging in court the law that requires TikTok to be sold by January next year or face a ban. The White House says it wants Chinese ownership to end for national security reasons.

TikTok has argued that it will not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government and that it has taken substantial measures to protect the privacy of its users.

Trump’s attempt to ban TikTok in 2020, when he was president, was blocked in court. He said in March that the platform poses a threat to national security, but also that a ban on it would harm some young people and would only strengthen Meta Platforms’ Facebook, which he has strongly criticized.

Trump already has an active social media presence with more than 87 million followers on X and more than 7 million followers on his own platform, Truth Social, where he posts almost daily.

A U.S. appeals court last week set an accelerated schedule to consider legal challenges to the new law.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the case for oral argument in September, after TikTok, ByteDance and a group of TikTok content creators joined the Justice Department earlier this month in asking the court for an expedited schedule asked.