When Ronan Dunne, a tourist from Ireland, was planning his trip to New York, he watched many videos of travel influencers on TikTok.
Dunne, who spoke to China Daily while celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Times Square, said he is an avid traveler and TikTok influencers give him good ideas about his next destination. "We watched videos before we came to New York and noted down the places that people were telling us to go to," he said.
Christina Solomonides and her family also planned their trip to Switzerland this past winter using TikTok. "I didn't even know they had the Lindt Museum till I found it on TikTok," she said.
About 150 million people in the United States, nearly half the country's population, currently use TikTok, the company reported on Monday. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is expected to unveil the latest user data when he testifies before U.S. Congress on Thursday.
The latest figures show a 50 percent surge in the number of U.S. users since the time the Donald Trump administration began efforts to ban the app, which is owned by ByteDance, a company in Beijing.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden wants ByteDance to sell the immensely popular short-video platform, which is an overseas version of Douyin in China, or face a nationwide ban in the U.S.
Several U.S. states and various branches of the federal government have already banned the use of TikTok on official devices, citing security risks about user privacy. TikTok has maintained that its user data is not shared.
"If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn't solve the problem. A change in ownership will not impose any new restrictions on data flow or access," TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter was quoted as saying by The Wall Street Journal.
Kira Palazzo said she probably spends 18 hours a day on TikTok. "From the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep," she said. Videos on TikTok are short, so it doesn't require a long attention span, she added.
"I'd have to agree with the short attention span," said Nora Marilyn, another TikTok user. "I can't speak for everyone, but I know for me and some of my friends, it's just what you need in the moment, rather than sitting there for like 15 minutes or 20 minutes watching a whole episode.
"I think we are benefiting (from TikTok). You learn a lot," said Dunne. "It is sharing of knowledge, different experiences, so it's definitely worthwhile. It is another avenue for growth."
A Quinnipiac University poll, released on March 15, showed that U.S. citizens, age 18 to 34, are far more likely to oppose a national ban on the app, with 63 percent against it and 33 percent supporting it.
"Honestly, if they ban TikTok, I'm just moving to a country where they have it. I need TikTok; they can't take it away," said Palazzo.
"I don't think it (a national ban) is a good idea," said Dunne. "It (TikTok) is good for the younger generation; it helps learn other people's perspectives on life. ... We travel a lot, so we watch a lot of travel influencers, so it gives us good ideas."
Kitler Cunningham, another TikTok user, said, "Personally, I feel we could ban specific accounts as opposed to the app itself. I think the app is beneficial to a lot of different people in a lot of different ways, especially when it comes to creative purposes. For the most part, I think it is a good app."