Tuesday, May 21, 2024

TikTok Is A Chinese Influence Tool, Say Poll Respondents

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According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, the majority of Americans think that China manipulates TikTok to influence U.S. public opinion. This survey comes as the U.S. considers a possible ban on the Chinese-owned short-video platform. About 58% of participants in the poll, which ended on Tuesday, agreed that the Chinese government uses TikTok, owned by ByteDance, to sway American views. Around 13% disagreed, while the remaining respondents were either uncertain or did not respond. The belief that China uses the app for influence was more prevalent among Republicans than Democrats

TikTok says it has spent more than $1.5 billion on data security efforts and would not share data on its 170 million U.S. users with the Chinese government. The company told Congress last year that it does “not promote or remove content at the request of the Chinese government.”

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

President Joe Biden last week signed legislation giving ByteDance 270 days to divest TikTok’s U.S. assets or face a ban.

TikTok has vowed to challenge the ban as a violation of the protections of free expression enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and TikTok users are expected to again take legal action. A U.S. judge in Montana in November blocked a state ban on TikTok, citing free-speech concerns.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll found 50% of Americans supported banning TikTok, while 32% opposed a ban and the rest were unsure. The poll only surveyed U.S. adults and doesn’t reflect the views of people under age 18, who make up a significant portion of TikTok’s users in the United States. About six in 10 poll respondents aged 40 and older supported a ban, compared with about four in 10 aged 18-39.

The poll showed 46% of Americans agreed with a statement that China is using the app to “spy on everyday Americans,” an allegation Beijing has denied.

The app is ubiquitous in America. Even Biden’s re-election campaign is using it as a tool to win over voters ahead of the Nov. 5 presidential election. Biden’s rival, Republican Donald Trump, who has criticised a potential ban and is the majority owner of the company that operates his social media app Truth Social, has not joined.

A majority of Americans, 60%, said it was inappropriate for U.S. political candidates to use TikTok to promote their campaigns.

The law signed by President Biden establishes a deadline of January 19 for the sale, which is one day before his current term ends. However, he has the option to extend this deadline by three months if he sees that ByteDance is making headway in divesting from the app.

The poll, carried out online, collected opinions from 1,022 adults across the U.S. and has a margin of error of approximately 3 percentage points.

With Inputs From Reuters

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