Should we ban all foreign apps?
President Trump might have a lot of support from Americans who want to do precisely that. In a poll run by TapResearch this week, 30% of American adults said they that the U.S. should ban all foreign social media apps. Another 40% said that the U.S. should ban all apps from countries that have an interest in spying on Americans.
“Our findings show that many people support banning apps developed by foreign companies,” TapResearch says.
A key concern: security of private data. Only about 10% of people believe that TikTok is “very secure.”
The is a political hot potato right now, as Trump has given TikTok 45 days to sell itself to an American-owned company. Of course, as the recent congressional hearings on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google before the House antitrust subcommittee showed, most adults are not tremendously savvy about technology, business, and their intersection with politics.
And polls have their weaknesses.
For example, while fewer than 20% correctly answered a multiple-choice question about who owns TikTok, 59% had no qualms about answering yes to a subsequent question that completely reveals the answer: “Did you know that Bytedance, the company that owns TikTok, is a privately-owned Chinese company headquartered in Beijing?”
The survey questioned 1,002 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the older people get, the more hawkish they become on foreign mobile apps.
“There’s a trend towards more aggressive action by older adults compared to the young adult population,” TapResearch says. “Among 18 to 20-year-olds, 35% of respondents said we should not ban any apps from the US app store, compared to only 18% of adults aged 55 to 64.”
On the TikTok question, people are split down partisan lines.
71% of conservatives agreed with Trump’s order to ban TikTok unless it’s sold, while just around 40% of those who described themselves as liberal agreed. A plurality of all those polled, however, said that banning an app from a U.S. App Store is not a violation of freedom of speech.
One thing that has generally broad agreement?
77% of respondents said that U.S.-owned social media companies can also be used by foreign governments to spy on Americans.
Another thing that most people might not consider when wondering whether TikTok or other Chinese-owned apps or media properties should be banned: whether China will retaliate.
“What if CNN were to announce next week: President Xi Jinping said, ‘We believe consumers are using the iPhone to circumvent Chinese security protocols. We have informed Apple that it must sell its operations in China, including all factories and supply chain operations, to a Chinese firm within 45 days,’” Scott Galloway, a professor at NYU Stern and serial entrepreneur shared today in his No Mercy, No Malice newsletter.
While it’s true that China started this — Google, Intel, Microsoft, Twitter, and many other U.S. companies cannot do business in China — the consequences of a tit-for-tat battle could get extreme.
An important note: while the 1,002 respondents of TapResearch’s poll were randomly selected, there’s no guarantee they are completely representative of Americans.