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< BackThursday, January 28, 2021

Brits Aren’t Swayed by Controversial TikTok Press

Despite media coverage about privacy issues, Avira survey shows UK smartphone users are more concerned about traditional forms of social media than TikTok.

January 28, 2021 (TETTNANG, GERMANY) – A recent survey commissioned by Avira has found that, despite warnings in the media, UK smartphone users are less concerned about TikTok than other forms for social media.  According to the study*, more than half of respondents in the UK said they use some form of social media daily. Of the respondents, 42% said they have privacy and security concerns around social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, while only 31% had concerns over TikTok.

Key Findings:

 42% of respondents in the UK expressed concerns** about privacy and security in social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. This figure rose to 60% for the US.

  • Only 31% in the UK were concerned about privacy and security on TikTok.
  • More than half of respondents in the UK said they now use some form of social media daily.
  • People are more likely to be concerned about social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat than they are about messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

 “It’s no secret that people have concerns over the apps on their phones, and they well should. What’s interesting, is what concerns UK respondents most. Despite all of the negative press along with governmental concern surrounding TikTok and WhatsApp, people are less concerned about these apps than they are about general social media apps,” said Keh-hui Ng, Director of Regional Growth at Avira.

Social Media

Social media has entrenched itself as a staple feature of our lives and is intertwined with almost our entire online presence. In fact, data shows that more than half (51%) of respondents in the UK now use some form of social media daily and an additional 9% use it 5-6 times per week. Despite this, 42% of respondents in the UK stated they had concerns surrounding privacy and security when it came to social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. 

This is hardly unsurprising considering the scandals that have emerged over past years such as the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica controversy. The level of concern amongst other markets differs slightly, with Germany showing 48% of people having privacy or security concerns relating to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat, and the US increasing even more with a huge 60% of people stating they had concerns.


TikTok is still a relatively young app in the world of mainstream entertainment, however, this has not stopped it from racking up a phenomenal 17 million users in the UK alone. It hasn’t been plain sailing for the company though, being a Chinese made app, it has been fraught with accusations of data collection and surveillance. It has made headlines through 2020 in a number of countries for a variety of reasons, yet people still trust it. Data collected from the survey shows that only 31% of respondents in the UK had any form of privacy or security concern regarding the app. This figure is more than 10% lower than its general social media counterpart. 

This trend is consistent in Germany with 34% of people expressing concern (vs 48% for general social media). The most surprising figure however comes from the US, where just 38% expressed concerns (vs 60% for general social media). This is somewhat surprising due to the rhetoric that was used by the US government, specifically former US President Donald Trump, about the app and its owner ByteDance, and its links to the Chinese government.

Messaging Apps

Another type of application that many people use on a daily basis are messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, iMessage, and Telegram. These apps deal with millions of messages around the world every day and WhatsApp especially has been shrouded in controversy over its proposed privacy changes. The changes would allow user data to be shared with other companies also owned by parent company Facebook. Despite this, only 35% of UK respondents had any concerns regarding security and privacy, this number did however rise to 45% in Germany, and 50% in the US. This suggests that people are more concerned about their privacy and security in social media apps rather than messaging apps.


* This quantitative study was carried out on behalf of Avira by the market research company Opinion Matters by means of an online survey. It surveyed 2,000 smartphone users over the age of 18 from Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States and was carried out between 28 October and 3 November 2020. Opinion Matters abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

** Throughout, ‘concern’ or ‘expressed concern’ is defined as respondents who selected ‘Very concerned’ or ‘Somewhat concerned’ when asked to rate their digital security or privacy concerns, if any, when related to the relevant app or mobile function.



Press contact:  James Griffiths,

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