The TikTok Ultimatum Is Here. What Does It Mean?

Leah Feiger: And I trust, baby.

Vittoria Elliott: But if it does happen, what bank will give him money after seeing what he did to Twitter?

Leah Feiger: If he tweets about it, though, in the next week or a half, Tori, you’re going to have to buy me lunch.

Vittoria Elliott: I don’t understand why this is my responsibility. I can commit to a coffee.

Leah Feiger: Done. All right, let’s leave it there. When we come back, we’ll get into all of the political influencers working with presidential campaigns on TikTok.


Leah Feiger: Welcome back to WIRED Politics Lab. Around the same time that the Senate passed the TikTok ban/divestment bill on Tuesday night, Team Biden posted a TikTok. Makena, Tori, did you see this?

Vittoria Elliott: Wild.

Makena Kelly: Yeah, we did.

Leah Feiger: Describe it to me.

Speaker: You stood strong with us and we’ll stand strong with you, sir.

Makena Kelly: It was just a clip from some workers meeting in March, but at the same time, it had these cute little halo emojis, angel emojis.

Leah Feiger: It was very curated. His TikTok team knows what they’re doing.

Makena Kelly: And very oblivious to what was happening on the Senate floor.

Leah Feiger: How is this possible? I mean, Biden just signed this bill. Help me understand the context here.

Vittoria Elliott: I think one of the big things is the bill was nested in a big foreign aid bill, and so a lot of the headline news is around the fact that we’re giving 60 billion to Ukraine, that aid is going to Israel and to Taiwan, and those are all big focuses of Biden’s platform. He’s been campaigning for months.

Leah Feiger: Absolutely.

Vittoria Elliott: To get this Ukraine aid bill through, and so I think realistically, that is A, the focus of the administration, and B, the thing that they would prefer to have all of us focused on, which is, hey, this is a very ineffective Congress. It’s actually been a really unproductive Congress for this term, and this is a big win on a real big campaign promise.

Makena Kelly: And notably, Biden’s statement last night that came out right after the vote did not even mention TikTok at all.

Leah Feiger: That tracks with the fact that he then posted a TikTok, or his campaign then posted a TikTok. What were the comments on the TikTok video?

Makena Kelly: The Biden campaign might’ve been oblivious to what was going on on the Senate floor, but their followers on TikTok were not.

Leah Feiger: Amazing.

Makena Kelly: If you go through all of the comments, it’s like, “Keep TikTok, prayer emoji. Keep TikTok, Joey.” It’s literally all that with some random, “Vote Biden,” or, “Trump will save America,” or whatever stuff like that, but it’s primarily like, “#KeepTikTok.”

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