About six-in-ten Americans (59%) see TikTok as a major or minor threat to national security in the United States, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults that comes as the platform faces scrutiny from lawmakers over its ties to China and the security of users’ data.

How we did this

Pew Research Center has a long record of studying Americans’ views of social media companies and how these companies use the data they collect. This study sought to understand views on how TikTok uses people’s data, as well as where they stand on the current debate over national security considerations.

This survey was conducted among 5,101 U.S. adults from May 15 to 21, 2023. Everyone who took part in the survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race and ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.

Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses, and its methodology.

A bar chart showing that a majority of Americans say TikTok is a national security threat, but this varies by party, ideology and age.

Just 17% of Americans say the platform is not a threat to national security and another 23% aren’t sure.

Opinions about the national security threat posed by TikTok differ along partisan lines, as was the case in another recent survey that asked Americans about a government ban on the platform. In the new survey, seven-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say TikTok is a threat to national security in the U.S., compared with 53% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

Conservative Republicans stand out in how big of a threat they see in TikTok. Half say TikTok is a major threat to national security in the U.S., while about a quarter or fewer say the same among moderate or liberal Republicans or among Democrats of any ideology.

Views of TikTok as a threat also vary by age. Just 13% of adults ages 18 to 29 say TikTok is a major threat. This share climbs steadily across age groups, reaching 46% among Americans 65 and older.

Adults who do not use TikTok are more likely than those who do to consider it a national security risk. Still, about four-in-ten TikTok users say the platform is a threat to the country. Among users, those ages 30 and older are more likely than those 18 to 29 see the platform as a threat (47% vs. 34%). Republican TikTok users are also more likely than Democratic users to hold this view (48% vs. 40%).

Policymakers at the federal and state levels have increasingly questioned TikTok’s practices regarding user data in recent months, fearing that the Chinese government could access information about Americans. These concerns led to the banning of the app from federal government devices and from all devices in the state of Montana. Recent accusations that TikTok misled Congress about its data use practices – and that the Chinese government may have accessed Hong Kong users’ data – continue to fuel debate.

The Center’s survey was conducted in mid-May, around the same time Montana’s TikTok ban was announced.

A bar chart that shows about two-thirds of Americans are concerned about how TikTok handles users’ data.

The survey also finds that the public is uneasy about TikTok’s data use practices. Some 64% of Americans say they are very or somewhat concerned about how TikTok uses data it collects from its users. Another 34% are not at all or not too concerned.

Republicans – especially those who identify as conservative – again are more wary than Democrats about the platform. About seven-in-ten Republicans (72%) are very or somewhat concerned about how TikTok uses data it collects from its users, compared with 60% of Democrats.

Roughly half of conservative Republicans (48%) say they are very concerned about TikTok’s data use practices, compared with much smaller shares of moderate or liberal Republicans and Democrats across ideological groups.

Age is also a factor when it comes to concern about TikTok’s data use practices. Three-quarters of adults ages 65 and older are at least somewhat concerned about how this data is being used by TikTok, compared with 68% of those 50 to 64, 61% of those 30 to 49 and 54% of those 18 to 29.

Views also vary by use of the platform, though reservations about TikTok’s data collection are not uncommon among users. Some 69% of Americans who have not used TikTok say they’re at least somewhat concerned about how the platform uses the data it collects, compared with half of TikTok users who say the same.

Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses, and its methodology.

Colleen McClain  is a research associate focusing on internet and technology research at Pew Research Center.