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Most Americans Think Social Media Has a Negative Effect on the US

Americans aren’t too confident in technology companies ensuring there is no misuse of their platforms in the 2020 presidential election, with 73% saying that they’re not too or not at all confident. But even more Americans (75%) think those companies have a responsibility to prevent misuse of their platforms. 

Those are findings from the Pew Research Center’s report about how Americans see tech companies that control the apps and services they frequently use. The recent Congressional hearing over Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that companies shouldn’t be liable for the content their users post, underscores how timely the report is. 

So how do Americans view big tech?

A majority of Americans (64%) say that social media in particular negatively affects the way things are going in the country today, with 78% of Republicans and 53% of Democrats holding a mostly negative view of social media giants. Prior to Election Day, social media companies did take steps to create constructive discourse: Twitter made it harder for users to mindlessly retweet articles (a measure that some took issue with) and even added an election misinformation hub. Facebook, Google, and Twitter vowed to protect the 2020 election.

social media negative influence

Despite all of these measures, a good portion of the American public (47%) still thinks tech companies need more regulation. This is slightly less than the 51% recorded by Pew in 2018, but in that two-year period, more Republican conservatives decided tech companies needed more regulation (42% in 2018 became 53% this year), and fewer Democratic liberals decided more regulation was needed (65% became 52%).

Around 72% of US adults say that social media companies have too much power and influence in politics today, and Republicans are more likely than Democrats to hold this opinion (82% compared to 63%). Republicans are also more likely to say that social media sites censor user viewpoints, with a considerable 90% of Republicans holding that view, compared to 59% of Democrats. 

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