Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff promotes TikTok despite national security concerns

What an Ossoff Georgia special election win would mean for the Republican party

Bustle.com Senior Political Correspondent and liberal analyst Erin Delmore and former President George W. Bush Spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp on the Georgia runoff election on Tuesday.

Jon Ossoff, the Democratic Georgia Senate challenger to David Perdue, the Republican incumbent, has framed the Jan. 5 runoff elections as a battle for the fate of the nation  — and the young candidate is causing a stir campaigning on Chinese-owned short video sharing app TikTok, promoting what has been deemed a potential national security threat.

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Senators from both parties have described TikTok as a potential national security threat.

One reason it appears Ossoff is promoting the app: aesthetics.

“Ok so, we’re not only voting because he’s hot,” one user clarified in the comments section of a video for his fans. “But because he is young, smart, has the same views as young people, he represents everything we want.”

In response to one fan who posted “he’s so fine ohmygod im free anytime of the week,” the same account replied, “are you free to help us make calls so we can see more of him…as our new senator?”

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Despite his fan base, the 33-year-old says he's not trying to be a pop idol.

“There is a sense in the rest of the country that some folks in Hollywood look down [on them] and that cultural elitism can be a distraction, and corrosive to the effort to build a broad coalition focused on improving our quality of life, solving our health care crisis and delivering investment and infrastructure,” he told Variety in an April interview.

Ossoff was the unsuccessful Democratic contender in a historically expensive 2017 special election for Georgia’s 6th District House seat.

When Ossoff entered the race, his district was not considered competitive and had been held by Republicans since 1978.

He’s actually not as progressive as his fans believe.

Ossoff in 2017 distanced himself from the national Democratic Party’s lurch to the left. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Ossoff “often tried to avoid nationalizing that campaign over fears of losing moderate voters.”

He said he would not support any tax increases, even on the wealthy. “I don’t support any increase in income tax rates,” he said.

And during a sit-down with the New York Times in 2019, Ossoff said he supported the Affordable Care Act with a public option over "Medicare-for-All" to save the private insurance market.

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Young politicos have begun leveraging video-sharing platform TikTok, which has come under national security scrutiny by the Trump administration, to help get out the youth vote for their respective parties.

It's a development that positions the upstart social media firm to take advantage of a valuable slice of the political marketplace dominated by social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for well over a decade.

Approximately 15% of TikTok's 100 million U.S. users were first-time voters this year, according to an analysis of public data. About 60% of the app's users are between the ages of 16 and 24, Reuters reported in 2016.

President Trump's administration contends that TikTok poses national security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China's government. TikTok denies the allegations.

Ossoff's campaign didn't return an email seeking comment on his use of the app.

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