America’s impression of TikTok tumbles

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
August 10, 2020, 7:10 PM UTC

Since President Donald Trump set his sights on banning TikTok, America’s impression of Chinese-owned video-sharing app has taken a dive. 

According to YouGov BrandIndex data, which asks questions about the health of brands on a daily basis, the rate of Americans with a negative impression of the social-media app soared recently. It went from 18 percent in early July when Trump first suggested banning the social media platform to 28.8 percent as of August 9, while the percentage of those with a positive impression slipped slightly from 14.1 percent to 12.6 percent in the same timeframe. 

In July, the rate of those with a negative impression of TikTok rose 17 percent among Americans aged 18 to 34, 43 percent among those aged 35 to 49 and 64 percent among those 50 and older. 

YouGov impression score is based on answers to the questions: “Overall, of which of the following online brands do you have a positive impression?” and “Of which of the following online brands do you have negative impression? 

The Trump administration’s drastic move to ban the mobile app from being downloaded in the United States is both a retaliatory move against China on which Trump blames the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a move to protect national security. The White House (and other TikTok detractors) view the app as tool for espionage for the Chinese Communist Party. 

Roughly three in 10 Americans (29%) agree, while the same amount don’t agree, according to a recent separate, YouGov Snap poll of more than 28,000 US citizens. Looking at political leanings, Republicans are more than three times as likely as Democrats (52% vs. 16%) to say they believe TikTok poses a national security risk to the US. Poll data also shows men (35%) are more likely than women (23%) to believe it’s a risk. 

Among age groups, those 18-24 years old are less likely (23%) to view TikTok as a security threat and significantly more likely (43%) to say it is not a threat. 

The bluster from the White House resulted in an executive order signed by Trump on August 6 requiring TikTok to shut down in the US or find new owners within 45 days. As reports swirl of potential takeovers from Microsoft, Twitter and others, TikTok is reportedly going to sue the Trump Administration over the ban. 

Previous YouGov research shows Americans are split on whether they would support or oppose the US government banning TikTok. Just over one-third (35%) would support a ban, while 33 percent would oppose it.   

Methodology: Impression data on TikTok is based on an average daily sample size of 2,786 US adults on a four-week moving average. Respondents were asked: “Overall, of which of the following online brands do you have a positive impression?” and “Of which of the following online brands do you have negative impression? 
Data on America’s view on national security is based on a sample of 28,495 US adults interviewed online between August 7 and 10, 2020. Respondents were asked “Do you believe the social video-sharing app TikTok does or does not pose a national security threat to the US?”  Results are weighted to be nationally representative.   

Image: Getty