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Study: 50% of Americans support government TikTok ban

The news: Half of Americans support a US government ban on TikTok, while 22% oppose the idea and more than a quarter are unsure, per a study by Pew Research Center.

Why it’s worth watching: The survey queried 3,576 adults in the US from March 20 to 26 amid mounting scrutiny of the video-sharing app that’s owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance.

  • Governments of the US, Canada, Belgium, India, the UK, the European Commission, and France have banned TikTok from government devices over data privacy and national security concerns. 
  • Separating TikTok from ByteDance by selling it to a trusted entity, which was attempted in the past, would reduce the mounting global scrutiny and remove barriers to growth. 
  • However, China Commerce Ministry spokesperson Shu Jueting said Beijing would strongly oppose a forced sale in response to any Biden administration demand.

Situational awareness: TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew failed to appease US Congress fears of ByteDance’s potential for spying for Beijing. Continued government scrutiny on TikTok is having a lasting impact on the entire social media app ecosystem, which is evident from Pew’s survey findings.

  • Support for a TikTok government ban is higher among Republicans than among Democrats (60% vs. 43%).
  • Older Americans are keener on banning TikTok than younger ones (71% of those ages 65 and older vs. 29% of those under 30).
  • Calls to ban the app are higher among those aware that TikTok is owned by China over those who are not (60% vs. 27%).  
  • Users of the app are less supportive of a ban than non-users (19% vs. 60%).
  • 88% of survey respondents say they have little or no confidence that Chinese social media companies will follow their privacy policies regarding personal information, per Pew.

Our take: Americans are increasingly skeptical of Chinese social media companies and their respective technologies. There’s a good chance that calls to ban TikTok will continue to expand beyond governments, security agencies, and colleges.

This sentiment is likely to intensify as TikTok’s dilemma plays out in public, which will make it difficult for those companies to expand into new markets.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Connectivity & Tech Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the technology industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.