Public Opinion Turns on TikTok—Majority of Americans Say the App is Used to ‘Influence American Public Opinion’

reuters poll says majority of Americans think TikTok influences public opinion
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reuters poll says majority of Americans think TikTok influences public opinion
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Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa

According to a new poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos over a period of two days—a majority of Americans believe TikTok influences public opinion.

Around 58% of respondents agreed with the statement that the “Chinese government uses TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, to ‘influence American public opinion.’” Around 13% disagreed with the statement, while the remaining 29% of people did not have an opinion, were unsure, or did not answer the question.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed legislation that gives ByteDance around nine months to divest from TikTok or face a ban in the United States. TikTok has said it will challenge the ban as a violation of the protections of free expression enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Last year, Montana became the first state in the United States to block the app—though that block was later overruled by a federal judge.

The poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos found that around 50% of Americans support a ban on TikTok, while 32% opposed a ban—the rest were unsure. That poll only surveyed U.S. adults with no reflection of the opinion of people under the age of 18. Around 6 in 10 people aged 40+ supported a ban, while 4 in 10 aged 18-39 supported a ban.

Whether or not Americans agree on TikTok’s influence of public opinion, 60% of them agreed it was inappropriate for U.S. political candidates to use the app to promote their campaigns. The poll was conducted online and received responses from 1,022 U.S. adults nationwide with a margin of error of about three percentage points.

With the United States set to potentially ban the app if ByteDance does not divest TikTok—could other voting blocs follow? What about Europe? The EU banned TikTok from government devices in 2023, citing “cybersecurity concerns, in particular regarding data protection and collection of data by third-parties.” Those are the same issues cited by the U.S. military for its bans on the app, while the FBI Commissioner and FCC Head have continually warned of data collection issues.