Americans are split on Trump’s potential TikTok ban

Jamie BallardData Journalist
August 04, 2020, 6:55 PM UTC

President Donald Trump told reporters last week that he would be banning the Chinese-made social video-sharing app TikTok. 

“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said during a conversation with reporters on July 31. Officials in Washington, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have expressed concerns about TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. Members of the Trump administration have worried that the Chinese government could get access to information about Americans who use TikTok.  

In a YouGov poll of more than 7,000 US adults, Americans are split on whether they would support or oppose the US government banning TikTok. Just over one-third (35%) would support a ban like this, while 33 percent would oppose it.  
 
Young adults (meaning those between 18 and 24 years old) are especially likely (44%) to oppose a government ban on TikTok. This is also the generation most likely to say they’re familiar with TikTok – only 8 percent of adults under 24 say they are not familiar with TikTok. In contrast, about one-quarter (24%) of those over 55 say they’re unfamiliar with TikTok.  

Shortly after Trump’s statement about banning the app, representatives for Microsoft announced that they have been in talks to discuss acquiring TikTok. According to an announcement on Microsoft’s blog, the company plans to continue discussing the idea with US government officials and with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. They plan to complete these discussions no later than September 15, 2020.  
 
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” reads the blog post.  ”It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”  
 
Additional polling finds that 44 percent of Americans would approve of Microsoft buying TikTok. About one in five (20%) say they would disapprove, and 22 percent don’t know whether they would approve or disapprove. 

In a news conference on August 3, President Trump said that TikTok would shut down on September 15 unless Microsoft or another company purchased it.  

He also said that part of the proceeds from the sale (if it happens) should be paid to the US Treasury as compensation for operating in America. 

“A very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the treasury of the United States,” Trump said of the potential TikTok sale. “The United States should be reimbursed or paid because without the United States they don’t have anything.” 

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Methodology: 7,133 U.S. adults were interviewed online between August 3 - 4, 2020. Respondents were asked “Would you support or oppose the US government banning the social video-sharing app TikTok?” and “Microsoft has confirmed that it has held talks to acquire the social video-sharing app TikTok, which is currently owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. Would you approve or disapprove of Microsoft buying TikTok?” Results are weighted to be nationally representative.  

Image: Getty