More than twice as many Americans support the U.S. government banning TikTok as oppose it (50% vs. 22%), though a sizable share (28%) are not sure, according to a new Pew Research Center survey that comes amid intensifying scrutiny of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app.
In recent weeks, the Biden administration has called on TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to either sell the app or face a possible ban in the United States because of concerns about data privacy and national security. The White House has also signaled its support for draft legislation in the House of Representatives that would allow the federal government to regulate or ban technology produced by some foreign countries, such as TikTok. The federal government and multiple states have also already banned TikTok on government devices.
Support for a government ban on TikTok is higher among Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party than among Democrats and Democratic leaners (60% vs. 43%). It’s particularly high among conservative Republicans (70%) and less so among moderate or liberal Republicans (46%). Among Democrats, conservatives and moderates are more supportive of a ban than liberals (49% vs. 36%).
Older Americans are much more supportive of banning the platform than younger ones: 71% of those ages 65 and older support it, compared with 54% of those ages 50 to 64 and fewer than half of adults under 50. Those under 30 stand out for being the only age group in which more people oppose banning the platform than support it (46% vs. 29%).
How we did this
Some of these age differences are related to use of TikTok. Younger people are more likely to be TikTok users: In a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, 48% of U.S. adults ages 18 to 29 said they used the platform, compared with 21% among adults overall.
Users of the platform are less supportive of banning it than non-users, according to the new survey. Still, about one-in-five adult TikTok users (19%) say they support a U.S. government ban of the app; 60% of non-users say the same. However, even among non-users, older people are more supportive of a ban.
TikTok use also plays a role within each party. Similarly low shares of Republicans and Democrats who use TikTok support a ban (21% and 18%, respectively). But among non-users, Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to support a ban (70% vs. 54%).
Most Americans know TikTok is owned by a company based in China
Americans who are aware that TikTok is owned by the China-based company ByteDance are particularly likely to support banning it.
In a multiple-choice knowledge question included in the new survey, 64% of Americans correctly identify China as the country in which TikTok’s parent company is located. Nearly a third are not sure, while the remainder choose an incorrect country. (The survey was in the field while TikTok CEO Shou Chew was testifying before Congress.)
Adults under 30 are somewhat less likely than older Americans to know where TikTok’s parent company is based, as are those with lower levels of education. Republicans and Democrats are about equally likely to know of TikTok’s connection to China, but conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are more likely to answer correctly than their moderate counterparts in each party. TikTok users are slightly less likely to know where the app’s parent company is based than non-users (60% vs. 66%).
Notably, a higher share of Americans correctly identify the location of TikTok’s parent company than the name of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, when presented with a similar multiple-choice knowledge question. Only around a third of Americans (35%) correctly name Alphabet as the company that owns Google – though in this case, younger Americans were more likely than older Americans to answer correctly.
More broadly, Americans’ views of China are also related to support for banning TikTok. Adults who have an unfavorable view of China are much more likely to support a TikTok ban than those who see the country positively (54% vs. 27%). Those who have a very unfavorable view of China are particularly likely to support a ban, compared with those with a somewhat unfavorable view of the country (66% vs. 40%).
Americans are skeptical of Chinese social media companies
The new survey also finds that Americans don’t trust Chinese social media companies. Nearly nine-in-ten (88%) say they have little or no confidence in Chinese social media companies to follow what their privacy policies say they will do with personal information, including 59% who say they have no confidence at all. A large majority (87%) also don’t believe that Chinese social media companies will use their personal information in ways that they feel comfortable with – including 58% who have no confidence at all in these companies to handle their data.
Some of this reflects general skepticism about how social media companies operate, rather than sentiments toward China specifically. Large shares of Americans also have little or no confidence in American social media companies to follow privacy policies (75%) or to use their personal information in ways they feel comfortable with (78%). However, only around a third of U.S. adults say they have no confidence at all in American companies, in contrast with the majorities who say the same about Chinese companies.
Older adults and conservative Republicans are especially likely to say they have no confidence at all in Chinese social media companies to follow privacy policies or use their personal information appropriately.
Source : PewResearchCenter