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Chris Vallance,Liv McMahon

Getty Images Former US President Donald Trump attending a mixed martial arts eventGetty Images

Donald Trump has joined TikTok, despite attempting to ban it on national security grounds during his presidency.

In 2020 he signed a presidential executive order attempting to ban the platform for its links to China, which was ultimately blocked by US courts.

He has since criticised recent attempts to curtail it, saying this would empower Facebook-owner Meta.

Mr Trump, who has amassed more than 3.6 million followers since launching his account on Saturday, said he will use “every tool available to speak directly with the American people”.

President Joe Biden is also using the platform to campaign for re-election in November, but he has only picked up 340,000 followers – ten times fewer than that of his rival.

It comes after President Biden signed into law a bill which gives the social media platform’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, nine months to divest the app or it will be blocked in the US.

The law was introduced because of concerns TikTok might share user data with the Chinese government – claims it has always denied.

The move by Mr Biden came as some surprise to the platform’s estimated 170 million users in the US.

Marcus Bosch, a researcher at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, said some TikTok users might see Mr Trump as “a potential preserver” of the app in the face of a potential ban – which might explain the speed at which he gained his following.

“TikTok alone is not decisive for the election but it has been a great real-time sensor for cultural and social atmosphere,” he told the BBC.

Karoline Leavitt, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, told NBC News the former president had “already gained significant ground with young voters and this is another way to reach them”.

His first TikTok, a 13-second video of him attending a mixed martial arts event, has been viewed more than 60 million times.

It comes after Mr Trump was convicted following a seven-week criminal trial.

Jurors found him guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records, as part of an effort to conceal hush-money payments to adult film performer Stormy Daniels.

Mr Trump acknowledged in an interview with CNBC in March that the app did pose a national security risk, but argued a ban would strengthen Facebook as “an enemy of the people along with a lot of the media”.

His Facebook and Instagram accounts were suspended following the US Capitol riots on 6 January 2021, but these have since been reinstated.

Mr Trump launched his own alternative social media platform, Truth Social, in 2022 – he reportedly owns a near-65% stake in its parent company, Trump Media.

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