Almost 60% of Americans consider TikTok to be a threat to national security in the United States as the Chinese-owned social media app faces increased scrutiny from lawmakers and the public over its data usage practices, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Among the 5,100 American adults surveyed in mid-May—shortly after Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill into law banning TikTok in the state—59% said they saw TikTok as either a major or minor threat to U.S. national security, while 17% of respondents said the platform is not a threat; 23% weren’t sure, according to the survey.
Republican and Republican-leaning respondents were slightly more likely to consider the short-video app a threat as seven in 10 saw TikTok as a threat, but five in 10 Democrats or Democratic-leaning respondents also expressed concern about the app; Republicans were also more concerned about how TikTok uses data it collects from users.
Age revealed itself as the greatest differentiator of thought in the survey: Only 13% of people 18 to 29 said TikTok is a major threat, compared to 46% of Americans 65 and older who see it as a major threat.
Pew also said TikTok users were also less likely to consider the app dangerous—just four in 10 say it’s a threat—but the survey didn’t provide how many non-TikTok users were concerned.
150 million. That’s how many Americans were on TikTok as of late March, when the app announced it hit the milestone of being used by almost half of the United States’ population.
The U.S. has considered banning the popular video-sharing app a number of times in recent years over concerns that its Chinese ownership poses a threat to national security through the data it’s collecting and the ability it has to turn that data over to Chinese leadership. Though a nationwide ban has not yet come to fruition—and likely won’t due to First Amendment challenges— a majority of states and Congress have banned the use of the app on government devices out of security concerns, and Montana recently became the first state to pass an outright ban on the app. TikTok sued Montana after the ban passed, arguing a complete ban on the app would require use of “extraordinary and unprecedented measures based on nothing more than unfounded speculation” and that there is no support to the claims that the app could give information to China. But, concerns about the app persist. In June, five Senators introduced the Protecting Americans’ Data From Foreign Surveillance Act, which they hope “will stop the export of large amounts of Americans’ personal information to foreign adversaries and preserve Americans’ right to privacy.” TikTok executives continue to claim the Chinese government has never requested U.S. user data.
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