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Half of Canadians support TikTok ban, with U.S. concerns ‘trickling’ north: poll

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A new poll indicates 51 per cent of Canadians support banning the social media app TikTok, after a U.S. bill aiming to do just that passed in the House of Representatives.


Canada has ordered its own national security review of TikTok, something the Liberal government revealed following passage of the U.S. bill earlier this month. 


Just under a third of respondents, 28 per cent, said they would oppose a ban, according to the Leger poll of 1,605 Canadians conducted March 23 to 25. The poll does not have a margin of error because online polls aren’t considered truly random samples.


Younger Canadians, who are also more likely to use TikTok, are less supportive of a ban than their older counterparts. Nearly half of those between 18 and 34 reported being on TikTok, compared to 12 per cent of poll respondents over 55. 


“In terms of those who support the ban and those who have specific concerns regarding TikTok, it’s mostly among older Canadians who don’t use TikTok,” said Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of Leger.


Among younger Canadians, 42 per cent are in favour of a ban, compared to 59 per cent of those 55-plus.


Bourque said messaging from the United States by politicians who are pushing the legislation to ban the app could be influencing opinions north of the border.


He said “the ownership of TikTok being outside the United States, and specifically in China, is what fuels a lot of the concerns south of the border.”


“It seems anyways that it’s trickling into Canada.”


TikTok is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese technology company ByteDance Ltd. The concern behind the U.S. bill is that the Chinese government could demand access to the data of TikTok’s American consumers because of national security laws that compel organizations in China to assist with intelligence gathering.


The bill, which still has to pass the U.S. Senate, would ban TikTok unless ByteDance sells its stake in the business.


The Canadian national security review is not related to the U.S. bill and was launched without public disclosure in September. The government has indicated TikTok would be subject to “enhanced scrutiny” through a new policy on foreign investments in the interactive digital media sector.


In the Leger poll, 56 per cent of Canadian respondents said they have heard about national security concerns involving TikTok from different countries.


Nearly three-quarters of those who were aware of those reports said they are concerned, but most, 56 per cent, haven’t changed how they use TikTok. 


While 21 per cent have decreased the amount of time they spend on the app, only seven per cent have dropped TikTok entirely. Bourque pointed out that amounts to fewer than one per cent of Canadians.


In total, 26 per cent of respondents said they are on TikTok, while 33 per cent of those with children said they allow their kids to use the app.


In Canada, the app appears to be significantly less popular than social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which are used by 83 and 58 per cent of those polled, respectively.


But when it comes to protection of their personal data, social media users are also more skeptical of those more popular apps. More than three-quarters of Facebook users and 70 per cent of those on Instagram said they are concerned about data protection. That’s compared to 66 per cent of those on TikTok.


“It seems that Canadians by and large have concerns about social media altogether,” Bourque said. “It seems to be something that’s beyond maybe what they’ve seen or heard specific to TikTok.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2024.

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