(Bloomberg) -- Moments after Republican candidates traded barbs on how best to limit China’s influence in the US, the commercial break featured an ad from TikTok, owned by Chinese company Bytedance Ltd.

“TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we can have,” former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said, criticizing rival Vivek Ramaswamy for joining the app owned by China’s Bytedance Ltd. 

In his remarks, Ramaswamy said that he needs to use platforms like TikTok to reach young voters so that he can win, and he reiterated that as president he would bar younger people from using social media.

The ad from TikTok, which has 1.7 billion users, appeared several times throughout the debate. The app has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike - the Trump administration tried to ban it and the Biden administration restricted its use on government devices. It’s also come under fire from groups for harming mental health.

One of the ads featured a US Navy veteran who goes by the nickname “Patriotic Kenny.” The 81-year-old, who has 2.6 million followers, uses the app to raise money to buy mobility scooters for other vets, according to his account. 

For more on Republican Party Presidential Debate, click here for our TOPLive blog on the Terminal and here online.

(Adds details on TikTok ad in second to last paragraph.)

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.