The news: Nearly half of American adults (47%) support a ban on TikTok on account of its ties to China, per a new Reuters/Ipsos study. Thirty-six percent oppose a ban, while 17% were undecided.
Behind the numbers: The survey highlighted deep concerns among Americans about China's global influence, as US-China relations have reached their lowest point in decades.
- 60% of Americans believe China is gaining an economic advantage over the US by spying on American companies.
- 56% think China is gaining a military advantage by spying on the US government.
Yes, but: Millions of Americans use TikTok, including 5 million US. businesses, per the app’s owner ByteDance. A broad US ban on any consumer-facing product that reaches as many users would be unprecedented—and difficult to navigate.
- Given TikTok’s advertising growth over the past few years, it’s safe to assume that advertisers are happy with their return on investment, and wouldn’t welcome any such ban.
- A ban is less popular with younger users, with a Wall Street Journal poll from April finding 48% of voters ages 18-34 oppose a TikTok ban.
Why it matters: The poll results indicate a growing mistrust of China and its influence on American technology.
- The growing concerns about TikTok's potential security risks have led to action at the local level. NYC recently banned TikTok on government devices due to security concerns, aligning with the federal government's previous ban on federal devices.
- Several states have taken similar steps, but broader action against TikTok beyond government-owned devices remains elusive.
- Montana is going even further, attempting to ban the app outright.
- The debate over TikTok's potential security risks highlights the broader issue of data privacy and national security in the digital age. While TikTok has taken steps to safeguard protected US user data, those efforts haven’t assuaged the concerns of lawmakers or internet users in general.