Trump campaign launches TikTok account as Truth Social shares fall

Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference, the day after a guilty verdict in his criminal case on charges that he falsified company records to hide money he paid in 2016 to silence porn star Stormy Daniels, in the Trump Tower in New York. York City, USA, May 31, 2024.

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump's campaign debuted an official account on Saturday evening on TikTok, the social media platform that may be banned in the US.

“It is my honor,” Trump said in his first speech TikTok post under the handle “@realdonaldtrump,” followed by a montage of him waving to the crowd during an Ultimate Fighting Championship show on Saturday. That post received 1.5 million likes within 10 hours of going online.

Trump's TikTok rollout came as his own social media company, Trump Media, took a financial plunge in the wake of the landmark verdict that convicted the former president of 34 crimes in his hush-money trial in Manhattan.

Trump Media, the parent company of Truth Social Trading under the DJT ticker, fell more than 5% at market close on Friday, the day after Trump's conviction, with the shares priced at $49. Immediately after Trump's conviction on Thursday, the stock fell about 15% during extended trading hours.

Trump launched Truth Social in early 2022 as an alternative, “unwoke” social media platform after being banned from sites like Twitter and Facebook following the January 6 Capitol riots. Since then, Trump Media has gone public and the former president now has a 65% stake in the company.

Truth Social did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Trump's move to TikTok.

Trump is a few months later than his Democratic opponent, President Joe Biden, whose re-election campaign was launched on TikTok in February. But the presumptive Republican presidential nominee already had more than 1 million followers on Sunday, more than the Biden campaign's 336,000.

“We refuse to cede any ground to Biden and the Democrats,” Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said in a statement to NBC News on Sunday. “We will deliver President Trump's winning message to every possible voter. He has already gained a lot of ground with young voters and this is another way to reach them.”

Both candidates joined TikTok despite previously raising national security concerns about the app.

In April, Biden signed a foreign aid package into law with a clause to force TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app or face a national ban on the platform in the US.

During his administration, Trump also said he would try to do that ban TikTok, although he has since reversed that position. Still, he told CNBC's “Squawk Box” in a March interview that he believes TikTok could threaten U.S. national security.

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