NC ranks in top ten “social media obsessed” states as TikTok ban looms

North Carolina is the tenth most “social media-obsessed” state, according to a report from Hennessey Digital. The ranking is based on the number of searches for the top social media platforms per 100,000 people. North Carolina comes in at 10th place with 133,110 average monthly searches per 100,000 people. 

“The campaign analyzed online search data on Google Keyword Planner – including ‘Facebook’, ‘Instagram’, ‘TikTok’, ‘YouTube’, ‘Reddit’, ‘LinkedIn’, and ‘Pinterest’ – in each U.S. state per 100,000 people,” according to a press release from Hennessey Digital. “The states with the highest average monthly search volume over the last 12 months have been named the most social media obsessed.” 

“America is home to approximately 320.6 million social media users, according to recent data from Statista in 2024,” said Jason Hennessey, CEO of Hennessey Digital, in a press release. “This study highlights the states most likely to be interested in social media by analyzing online search data on Google, with Oregon, Maine, and Massachusetts coming out on top. It is interesting, however, to see that the most popular social media platform, according to the study, is YouTube, compared to other popular apps such as TikTok and Instagram; this may suggest that people are more interested in video-based content or, on the other hand, that people are less likely to have YouTube downloaded as an app, boosting online searches in turn.” 

“The social media obsession – and the reaction from some policy makers – looks a lot like breathless fears over kids watching too much tv in the 1980s and violent video games later on,” Jessica Melugin, Director of the Center for Technology & Innovation at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the Carolina Journal in an email.  “It’s true that too much of anything probably isn’t great for any age group, but we as individuals and parents climb the learning curve and begin to moderate. It also depends on the person; the balancing point between benefit and harm is different for everyone.”

Concern for the safety of minors online has recently come into the spotlight as Attorney General Josh Stein joins 42 other state attorneys general urging the FTC to strengthen protections online for minors, citing concerns that the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, passed in 1998, has not evolved as the internet and social media have advanced, according to a recent report by the Carolina Journal. 

Despite the downfalls of social media, many argue that government regulation isn’t the answer, instead suggesting self-discipline or parental regulation to curb social media addiction.

“That means a top-down regulatory solution isn’t a good fit,” said Melugin. “There are so many benefits to social media that would be sacrificed with regulation too. It’s not a good stump speech or political fund-raising sound bite to talk about the creativity, connection and joy that social media brings. But all of those factors do explain why it’s so popular and we shouldn’t forget about what might be lost with state-mandated age verification or government bans. There are, of course, principles of limited government, personal responsibility and free speech at stake too,” continued Melugin. “Social media has good things and bad things to offer us. Just like the physical world. That’s because platforms full of third-party content are just a reflection of society. Love it or hate it: it’s us.”

Yet concerns over social media extend beyond worries about youth; the most pressing concerns for some rise to a geopolitical level focused on national security. Federal lawmakers have introduce legislation to ban Chinese-owned social media platform, TikTok.

“TikTok, which has more than 170 million American users, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese technology firm ByteDance Ltd,” reports AP. “The lawmakers contend that ByteDance is beholden to the Chinese government, which could demand access to the data of TikTok’s consumers in the U.S. whenever it wants. The worry stems from a set of Chinese national security laws that compel organizations to assist with intelligence gathering.”

Surprisingly, North Carolina Congressman Jeff Jackson, D-14th, known for his heavy use of TikTok for campaign and constituent updates, voted for the bill. Following the bill’s passage in the House, Jackson received significant flak by TikTok commenters. Many others have threatened to unfollow him on account of his note on the TikTok ban, according to a CNN report. On Saturday, Jackson posted an apology video on TikTok. 

However, Jackson isn’t alone in juggling social media governance against campaign communications. 

“Jackson is not the only House representative who has taken advantage of the popular app and voted for the bill that could ban it,” reported CNN. “Some of these representatives actively use the app to boost their campaigns, while others use it for office communications. Democratic Reps. Colin Allred of Texas, Adam Schiff of California and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan have all used TikTok as they each campaign for the Senate this year.” 

Others who voted for the bill include Rep. Alama Adams, D-12th, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-10th, and Rep. Gregory Murphy, R-3rd. In November, Jackson will face off against Republican nominee and fellow congressman Dan Bishop, 8th, in the race for state attorney general. Bishop voted against the bill. 

The post NC ranks in top ten “social media obsessed” states as TikTok ban looms first appeared on Carolina Journal.


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