On Friday, the Trump administration announced that popular Chinese social media apps TikTok and WeChat would be banned from US App Stores. Additionally, WeChat faces other restrictions including a ban on transactions and internet hosting, which effectively make it unusable within the US.  

Over the weekend, TikTok made a deal with Oracle and Walmart that was approved by the Trump Administration, allowing them to continue their US operations and remain in US app stores. A federal judge blocked the WeChat ban, but the future of Tencent’s app is yet to be determined. 

TapResearch polled adults across the US to see how the general public felt about the security of foreign-owned apps, such as TikTok and WeChat immediately after the announcement on Friday. We surveyed 1,001 people ages 18-64 who live in the United States in 2 polls, one about WeChat (full results here) and one about TikTok (full results here). We previously polled users about TikTok on August 7, 2020, and you can read about those results here.

Our findings show that many people still support banning apps developed by foreign companies. In our August poll, only 30% of respondents answered that we should not ban any apps. The most recent data remains relatively constant with 34% of respondents saying we should not ban any apps and most respondents indicating that the US should either ban all foreign apps or at least apps from nations with an interest in spying on Americans. 

Should the US ban all apps developed in foreign nations?

Yes, only US-owned social media apps should be allowed for national security reasons (32%)

We should only ban apps from nations who have an interest in spying on Americans, such as Russia, China, etc. (35%)

No, we should not ban any apps (33%)

Similar to our previous poll, we asked if the respondents agreed with President Trump’s executive order banning TikTok in the US. While the largest segment of respondents (40%) indicated that they agree because the Chinese government is using TikTok to spy on Americans, this data is divided across political lines. Of respondents who plan to vote for Donald Trump in November, 70% agree with the executive order because “the Chinese government is using TikTok to spy on Americans”. Of respondents who indicated that they would be voting for Joe Biden, only 28% agreed with banning TikTok and 42% disagreed because “US-owned social media companies are also not secure”

When asked if the Trump Administration alone has the authority to ban an app like WeChat, the data suggests that most people believe the US government has the authority to ban an app, but the respondents are divided about if congressional approval is necessary. Again, this data suggests that the divide is down political lines. Of the respondents who plan to vote for Donald Trump, 66% say that an executive order alone is enough to ban WeChat from the app store, while 55% of respondents who plan to vote for Joe Biden say that congressional approval is necessary.

All in all, our poll suggests that many Americans continue to be concerned about foreign-owned social media apps using their technology for espionage. Our previous research on TikTok is consistent with these new findings as well as the latest poll into public opinion on banning WeChat. While Oracle and Walmart’s partnership with TikTok prevented a ban in the US, WeChat’s future is still uncertain. Our findings suggest that many people are concerned about foreign espionage through WeChat, but approval of an outright ban is divided across political lines.

About the Poll

TapResearch conducted this survey across its network of random mobile devices. The two polls were conducted on September 18, 2020, with 1,001 respondents each. 

If you’re a mobile marketer or decision-maker and would like to run a similar poll across the TapResearch mobile sample network please contact Michael Sprague at michael@tapresearch.com.

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