Gen Z won’t be happy if the Trump administration moves forward on talk of banning TikTok in the U.S.
Just under 60 percent of the generation, aged roughly between 10 and 23, said in a new Morning Consult survey that TikTok “should not” be banned in the U.S, with 47 percent of Millennials, aged roughly between 24 and 35, saying the same.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Republican and a member of the fringe Tea Party movement within that party, suggested early this week that TikTok may be banned in the U.S., based on the notion that the platform’s base in Beijing represents a “national security threat” related to the possibility of data sharing with the Chinese government. It also comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which President Trump and some members of his administration have repeatedly blamed on China, even attempting to racialize the name of the virus.
TikTok owner ByteDance has denied repeatedly that it shares company data with government authorities, but India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi just banned the app there, along with dozens of other China-based apps, including WeChat and Weibo. The ban was part of a response to a deadly June fight between Indian and Chinese troops on a contested part of the border between the nations. And on Friday, Amazon sent a company-wide memo telling all employees with an Amazon e-mail that they must delete the TikTok app from their phones “due to security risks,” according to a report by The Information. But the company walked back the memo the same day, saying it was “sent in error” and that employees could continue using TikTok on their phones.
Even with some supposed security concerns, those who don’t want a ban of the app in the U.S. represents a sizable portion of the voting population, as Pew Research Center in May found that 10 percent of voters in the 2020 election will be part of Gen Z. Even though it’s the generation with the youngest adult population, Pew said about 24 million people in Gen Z will be eligible to vote this year. Millennials make up about 27 percent of the eligible voting population. Moreover, in the 2018 mid-term elections, Gen Z and Millennials made up 25 percent of all people who voted.
With Gen Z specifically, Pew noted: “Their political clout will continue to grow steadily in the coming years, as more and more of them reach voting age.”
And there is a rebellious streak among the Gen Zers surveyed by Morning Consult. Twenty-five percent said they would actually be “more likely to use the platform” if a ban of TikTok was seriously being considered. And Gen Z has an increasingly positive opinion of the app, with 55 percent having a “favorable impression” of TikTok in June, up from 43 percent at the start of the year.
Still, a number of people among other generations do support the idea of banning TikTok, according to the Morning Consult survey. The short-form video app has grown rapidly in the U.S. and surpassed 2 billion downloads this year, but like most new social apps, growth has been mainly among the younger generations.
Among Gen X, aged between 40 and 55, 32 percent said they support a ban of TikTok, and 34 percent of Baby Boomers, age 56 and up, agree. But a higher percentage of both, 41 percent for Gen X and 45 percent for Boomers, actually have “no opinion” on a possible ban of the app.
Overall, only 29 percent of people support a U.S. ban of TikTok, specifically. But when asked generally about Chinese companies operating in the U.S., 38 percent of people supported a ban, the survey found.
The support of a ban also differs among political lines, as does almost everything today. Forty-four percent of Republicans said they support a ban of TikTok, while only 19 percent of Democrats agreed.