In a surprising turn of events, Donald Trump, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, has made his debut on TikTok, the widely popular short-video social media platform owned by China-based tech giant ByteDance. This move comes amidst legal battles over TikTok’s ownership and security concerns, setting the stage for intriguing developments as the U.S. elections draw near.

The revelation of Trump’s presence on TikTok was initially reported by Politico, revealing that he shared a video on his account on Saturday night. The footage showcased Trump engaging with fans at an Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Newark, New Jersey.

Trump’s TikTok account, under the name “President Donald J. Trump” with the handle @realdonaldtrump, quickly amassed over 450,000 followers by 0800 GMT, highlighting the significant attention garnered by his presence on the platform.

ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is currently entangled in legal disputes stemming from a U.S. law mandating the sale of TikTok by January next year or potentially face a ban. While concerns persist regarding Chinese ownership of TikTok on national security grounds, the Trump administration refrained from advocating for a complete ban.

TikTok has vehemently defended its data privacy practices, assuring that U.S. user data is not shared with the Chinese government and emphasizing its stringent privacy protection measures.

Despite Trump’s previous attempts to ban TikTok during his presidency, his efforts were met with resistance from the courts, ultimately leading to their failure. Trump’s acknowledgment of TikTok as a national security threat in March was juxtaposed with his recognition of the potential adverse effects of a ban, particularly on young users, and its potential to bolster Meta Platforms’ Facebook, a platform he has frequently criticized.

In a parallel development, President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign joined TikTok in February, underscoring the platform’s growing significance as a tool for political engagement and outreach in the digital realm.