In just a day since joining TikTok, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has garnered an impressive 3 million followers on the platform he previously attempted to ban on national security grounds. This strategic move, initiated on Saturday, aims to connect with younger voters as Trump campaigns for a third term in the White House. He faces a tight race against Democratic incumbent Joe Biden ahead of the 5 November presidential election.

Biden’s campaign is already active on TikTok, boasting over 340,000 followers, despite the president signing legislation that could ban the app unless its Chinese owner, ByteDance, divests it. TikTok, used by 170 million Americans, has become a critical battleground in the tech and political spheres.

Trump’s inaugural post on his TikTok account, @realdonaldtrump, featured a video of him greeting fans at an Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Newark, New Jersey. The video has amassed over 56 million views. This surge in followers indicates significant engagement and interest from TikTok’s user base.

ByteDance is currently challenging the law requiring it to sell TikTok by January or face a ban. The White House maintains that ending Chinese ownership is essential for national security. In response, TikTok has asserted that it will not share US user data with the Chinese government and has implemented extensive measures to protect user privacy.

Trump’s earlier attempt to ban TikTok in 2020 was halted by the courts. While he reiterated in March that the platform poses a national security threat, he also acknowledged that banning it could negatively impact young users and inadvertently benefit Meta Platforms’ Facebook, a company he has frequently criticised.

Trump continues to maintain a robust social media presence, with over 87 million followers on X (formerly Twitter) and more than 7 million followers on his own platform, Truth Social, where he posts regularly.

Meanwhile, a US appeals court has expedited the schedule to address legal challenges to the new TikTok-related law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has set oral arguments for September, following a joint request from TikTok, ByteDance, a group of TikTok content creators, and the Justice Department for a swift resolution.

Trump’s foray into TikTok signifies a noteworthy pivot in his digital strategy, potentially enhancing his reach and influence among younger voters as the election approaches.