Poll: Americans Believe Social Media Harms Free Speech

Conservatives are having a difficult time trusting that social media companies will protect the First Amendment.

In a new poll released by Axios, the general sentiment towards big tech companies such as Google and Facebook was negative. A majority of those polled said that they felt tech companies were harming both democracy and free speech. Republicans weren’t alone in their concern: independents and Democrats had also lost faith in tech companies. Overall, 57% of those polled felt that social media was destroying democracy and free speech, while only 40% still retained faith in those companies.

Trust in tech companies dropped significantly from November 2017. As of November 2018, only 30% of Republicans, 39% of independents, and 50% of Democrats trust that social media has the safety democracy and free speech in mind. According to Axios, there has been a 15 point spike in the number of people who worry that the government won’t regulate big tech. There has been a 14 point increase in general distrust towards these platforms.

Much of this could be attributed to the YouTube terrorist video scandal, which showed how easy it was for actual criminals and terrorists to use big tech toward their ends. Censorship among big tech has also become part of the national conversation, from President Trump’s political ad being taken down on Facebook to NRA gun pages being banned on YouTube. Even though in all the congressional hearings, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube have all denied any censorship, their actions speak louder than their words. Conservative content is not welcome on these platforms.

New regulations on hate speech, the outcry from conservative employees at Google and Facebook, as well as a lack of transparency when it comes to taking content down is taking its toll among social media users in the United States. 67% of Republicans have said that Google Search is biased against them.  49% of conservatives don’t trust Twitter, and 66% of conservatives don’t trust Twitter.

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