How Consumers Feel About a Possible TikTok Ban

The jury is still out on whether The Restrict Act will go into effect, but online discussion about a possible TikTok ban is in full swing. Between professional TikTok creators, industries thriving on TikTok and avid users, opposition to a ban is pervasive. Still, over one-third of consumers are in favor of a ban, indicating that concerns around data privacy are real and significant.

One thing that is perfectly clear is Tik Tok’s power as a marketing medium. Driving TikTok Ad Effectiveness explores what every brand needs to know to maximize brand and outcomes lift on the platform.

But what do you need to know about where consumers stand on the possible ban? And how should you adapt your social strategies accordingly? Using DISQO’s customer experience platform, in April, we surveyed 29,889 consumers and uncovered key insights to help you stay a step ahead. 

Be proactive, not reactive

With 20% of consumers reporting that they use TikTok daily, it’s safe to say that a potential ban would grab consumer attention. But just how much? Eighty percent of consumers shared that they were aware of the ongoing conversations between TikTok executives and the U.S. government, with 24% stating they were “very aware.” Among those who use TikTok at least monthly, awareness rises to 90%.

“I deleted TikTok when I first heard of the privacy concerns and told my family to do the same.”

- Male, 57, $125,000 and above, California

“I don't feel that any platform has the right to gather personal data. However, all platforms do this, so why just single out TikTok?”

- Female, 47, $24,999 and under, Pennsylvania

“I don't really think about data security. I feel that anything I'm willing to use the internet for is almost free game.”

- Female, 59, $75,000 - $124,999, Wisconsin

Our TikTok report found that nearly 1 in 3 consumers reported that they use TikTok to “find cool projects and products.” Those relying on TikTok to engage with their favorite brands and to make purchases decisions will want to know what will happen should a ban go into effect, or alternatively how a sale might impact their experience. Brands should consider proactively communicating how they plan to minimize disruptions to their customers’ experience.

Our study shows a nuanced picture in terms of perspectives on a ban. Thirty-three percent (33%) of consumers said they would feel positive about a ban, with 19% reporting that they would feel “very positive.” On the other hand, 29% reported that they would feel negative about it. In the middle were 38% of consumers who said that they didn’t care about the ban. 

Source: DISQO Audience, n = 29,889, April 1-3, 2023

Brands that take steps to reassure fans and followers and get ahead of customer expectations will come out on top. Agile message testing among target audiences can help mitigate sensitivities around data privacy communications and eliminate the guesswork of determining what resonates with consumers or what might miss the mark. 


Acknowledge consumer safety concerns

TikTok is not the first social media app to face scrutiny over data privacy.  While it’s clear the government has concerns about TikTok particularly, we took a look at how consumers think about other social media platforms, too. Overall, a small majority (57%) consider TikTok less safe than other social media platforms, while 38% consider it just as safe as the others. 

“Every social media app is gonna have access to your data to some degree. Either don't download it or deal with consequences.”

- Female, 23 years old, $25,000 - $49,999, Kentucky

“I don't put much on social media. Users are the product, since we don’t pay to use it. They use your data to sell to advertisers.”

- Male, 40 years old, $24,999 and under, Alabama

Unsurprisingly, the degree of concern and reasons behind it differs across key demographics. Thirty-six percent (36%) of males believe that TikTok is much less safe than other platforms, which is 11 percentage points higher than females. From a generational perspective, perceptions of TikTok as less safe than other platforms increases as a function of age - as low as 17% among Gen Z and as high as 44% among Boomers.

Source: DISQO Audience, n = 29,889, April 1-3, 2023 

Brands need to keep a close pulse on their target audience and their perceptions of safety. Devoting resources to an open dialogue with your customers and prospects is a must to foster the trust customers need to support your business; check out DISQO’s robust Audience Solutions for more information. 

An agile approach is a brand’s best friend

We also asked consumers what platforms they would turn to should a ban take place. Facebook, Instagram and Youtube were the clear winners, ending in a statistical dead heat. Interestingly, all of these platforms offer a similar short-form video format like TikTok (Instagram and Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts), which is perhaps an indication as to why the TikTok audience might be drawn toward these platforms in its absence.

Source: DISQO Audience, n = 29,889, April 1-3, 2023

On TikTok and other platforms, consumers love short-form video. Brands do well to ground their strategies in these preferences and consider how they fit on the particular platform they are using, while remaining nimble to pivot if need be.  Regardless of how the TikTok ban or sale evolves (or doesn’t), it’s important to test messaging and content to determine what works with customers. This means rigorous Ad Testing and Lift Measurement will be key to ongoing success. 

Keeping customers at the center of every strategy

Despite concern around data privacy on social media, it remains a core channel for consumer engagement. See DISQO’s social media normative benchmarks for more information on how well campaigns typically perform on different channels.  In social media and beyond, brands always need to prepare to meet their customers where they are, whenever and however often that may change.

Interested in learning more about TikTok advertising? Deep dive into our report for a holistic view of consumer experiences on TikTok. 


DISQO’s CX platform includes Ad Testing for optimizing creative and messaging before deploying ads across platforms and the only at-scale solution for measuring brand and outcomes lift via a single source. The DISQO CX platform has solutions for you. 

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