The presidential campaign of Donald Trump rolled out Facebook advertisements that call for support in banning video-sharing app TikTok, which has been under scrutiny over security issues.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the government is weighing a ban on Chinese social media apps such as TikTok, over security concerns that have plagued the app. Trump’s campaign is apparently urging its supporters to join the cause.
The Facebook ads, with images that claim “TikTok is spying on you,” were shared on Twitter by ABC News’ Will Steakin and New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz.
NEW: Trump running anti-TikTok ads on Facebook, urging supporters to sign a petition to ban the app pic.twitter.com/hblOeUprar
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) July 18, 2020
Trump now running anti-TikTok Facebook/Instagram ads accusing the company of spying on users pic.twitter.com/dfHuSVpciL
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) July 17, 2020
“TikTok has been caught red handed by monitoring what is on your phone’s Clipboard,” say the text on the ads, referring to a security issue that was also discovered by Apple’s iOS 14 in other apps such as AccuWeather, AliExpress, Call of Duty Mobile, Google News, Overstock, and Patreon, as well as LinkedIn and Reddit.
The ads call for people to sign a petition to support the discussions to ban TikTok. However, according to Lorenz, the link goes to a survey that collects a person’s information to be added to a mailing list. “These ads are basically stoking anti-TikTok/China sentiment and misleading users to boost Trump’s mailing list,” he said.
The ads were paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, and primarily target the age range of 18 to 64, Bloomberg reported, citing information from Facebook’s ad library.
Chief of Staff Mark Meadows recently said that the White House could take action against Chinese apps such as TikTok within weeks, not months, as they are under review over risks to national security.
Meanwhile, experts told Digital Trends that TikTok is not any more dangerous than other social media apps or online services, but it is being singled out due to its connection to China.
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