© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. flag and TikTok logo are seen in this illustration taken, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
By Michael Martina and David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Close to half of American adults support a ban on the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos survey that also asked questions about national security concerns and China.
TikTok, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance and used by tens of millions of Americans, has faced calls from U.S. lawmakers for a nationwide ban over concerns about possible Chinese government influence.
Some 47% of respondents to the two-day poll, which concluded on Tuesday, said they at least somewhat supported “banning the social media application, TikTok, from use in the United States,” while 36% opposed a ban and 17% said they didn’t know.
Fifty-eight percent of Republicans favored a ban, compared to 47% of Democrats, the poll showed.
The survey also revealed deep worries among Americans about China’s global influence at a time when U.S.-China relations have fallen to their lowest point in decades.
The online Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted nationwide, collecting responses from 1,005 adults, including 443 Democrats and 346 Republicans. It had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 4 percentage points in either direction.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said in March that China’s government could use TikTok to control software on millions of devices and drive narratives to divide Americans, adding that the app “screams” of national security concerns.
Other top U.S. intelligence officials, including CIA Director William Burns, also have said TikTok poses a threat.
TikTok said in a statement that more than 150 million Americans, including 5 million U.S. businesses, actively use TikTok to earn a living, engage in the classroom, and find community.
“We’ve taken unprecedented actions to safeguard protected U.S. user data, and we will continue working to build a safe, secure, and inclusive platform to ensure the positive experience of our users in every corner of the country,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
Efforts to give the Biden administration new powers to ban TikTok have stalled in Congress. Last month U.S. lawmakers said they were considering changes to address concerns about the bill.
Still, the issue could become a focus for Republicans in the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign, with some candidates backing a TikTok ban.
Former President Donald Trump in 2020 sought to bar new downloads of TikTok but a series of court decisions blocked the ban from taking effect.
Florida governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has said he favors some form of national ban on the app.