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Will Biden Lose His Younger Voters If He Bans TikTok?

The debate over the potential banning of TikTok has been ongoing for some time, with concerns over data privacy and national security at the forefront of the discussion. The app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has faced allegations that it collects users’ data and shares it with the Chinese government.

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TikTok has become an important political tool

These concerns have led some lawmakers and officials to call for the app to be banned in the United States. However, the issue is more complicated as TikTok has become an important tool for political mobilization, particularly among the younger generation.

The potential banning of TikTok has led to concerns about its impact on young voters, who are a key demographic for both parties. In particular, Democrats are worried that a ban could depress turnout among Gen Z voters and damage the party’s prospects in future elections.

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In 2020, Aidan Kohn-Murphy used TikTok to rally support for Joe Biden. Now, the 19-year-old is trying to prevent the death of the platform in the US.

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“I’m not defending TikTok as a company; I’m defending my entire generation. If they went ahead with banning TikTok, it would feel like a slap in the face to a lot of young Americans,” adding that “Democrats don’t understand the political consequences this would have.”

Young people have been a crucial part of the Democratic coalition in recent years, with their strong turnout in the 2022 midterms credited with helping the party avoid a disastrous outcome. While they still make up a relatively small portion of the electorate, their numbers are growing, and their engagement is seen as essential to the party’s long-term success.

Many people use the app to share political content, organize events, and connect with others who share their political views. The app has also become an important source of news and information for many young people. A recent survey shows that 1 in 5 young people get their political information from TikTok.

US representative Jamaal Bowman said a ban on TikTok would certainly hurt voter turnout, “Banning TikTok? I mean, are you trying to engage young voters or not? What are we doing here? They will absolutely stay at home. There’s no question about that.”

At the same time, there are legitimate concerns about the potential national security risks posed by TikTok.

Tricky balancing act for Democrats

This has led to a tricky balancing act for Democrats, who must weigh the potential political costs of a TikTok ban against the national security risks it may pose. 

However, Democratic strategist Andrew Feldman said the security risks posed by the platform are real and encouraged Democrats to do the right thing by banning the app.

“The question here is what price are we willing to pay to put up with TikTok?” he said. “Yes, absolutely, this is a political challenge because this is Gen Z’s favorite social media platform. But at the same time, there’s a real cost here (to let the app continue as is), and Democrats need to have a moral compass.”

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