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TikTok ban gains momentum as half of Americans favor the move

A new poll shows half of all Americans favor banning the popular social media app, while just one in five are opposed to the idea.
The TikTok logo.
Posted at 4:44 PM, Mar 31, 2023

To ban, or not to ban.

The debate over TikTok has gained momentum in recent months, and now a new public opinion survey shows the American public appears to be on board with an outright ban.

poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 50% of Americans fully support the idea of the U.S. government banning the app, while just 22% are opposed. About 3 in 10 respondents were unsure. 

TikTok has faced intensifying scrutiny amid concerns that the Chinese-owned social media app poses a national security threat over how it handles user data. 

The big concern is that the app's parent company, ByteDance, has financial ties to the Chinese Communist Party, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill claim that could allow China to potentially use the app as a surveillance tool.

President Joe Biden and lawmakers have signaled support for a ban, but not all Americans are on board.

Pew Research Center

To no surprise, younger people and those who actually use TikTok were much more likely to strike down the idea of a ban, while older folks — especially seniors — were all for it. However, 53% of those who oppose a ban are completely unaware TikTok is owned by a Chinese company.

Most respondents (64%) are aware of TikTok's connection to China, but adults under 30 and those with lower education levels were much less likely to know where TikTok's parent company is based.

Notably, 52% of those with a high school education or less didn't know ByteDance was a Chinese company.

The ban debate also seems to be a more partisan issue than some may expect. Those who identified politically as Republican-leaning were much more likely to support a ban (60%), compared to just 43% of respondents who side more with the Democratic party.

The survey also found that Americans don't trust Chinese-run social media companies. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents said they have little to no confidence that Chinese companies will obey their privacy policies and 87% said they don't believe their personal data will be used appropriately.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew goes before Congress.
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However, the data doesn't reflect a negative sentiment toward China specifically, as roughly three-quarters of respondents said they don't have confidence in American social media companies either.

It remains to be seen whether a TikTok ban will actually come to fruition, but the support of general public could have significant implications for the future of the app.