Americans Are Wary of Social Platforms’ Power and Influence Over Politics

Pew Research Center found that 47% of U.S. adults favor more regulation of the sector

72% of respondents believe social media companies wield too much influence over politics z_wei/iStock
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Adults in the U.S. believe social media platforms have too much power and influence when it comes to politics, and nearly one-half feel like more government regulation over the sector is necessary, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

The think tank polled 4,708 U.S. adults between June 16 and 22, finding that 72% of respondents believe social media companies wield too much influence over politics, while 21% felt that they had the right amount and 6% thought they didn’t have enough.

Republicans were more likely to be wary of social networks than their Democratic counterparts, with 82% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying that they had too much power and influence over politics, compared with 63% of Democrats and Democrat-leaners.

Conversely, 28% of Democrats said social networking platforms had the right amount of power, versus just 13% of Republicans.

Pew even found divisions within parties, saying that 89% of conservative Republicans believe social networks have too much power, compared with 74% of moderate or liberal republicans. On the other side of the political spectrum, 68% of liberal Democrats agreed with that assessment, compared with 60% of moderate or conservative Democrats.

Pew Research Center

When asked whether the government should further regulate major technology companies, 47% of respondents favored more oversight, while 39% were content with the current level and 11% thought they should be regulated less.

Partisanship did not play as big a role, as 48% of Republicans and 46% of Democrats called for more regulation. This was not the case when Pew ran a similar survey in 2018, and Democrats were far more likely to favor more regulation.

Further comparing 2020 and 2018, Pew found that 53% of conservative Republicans now favor more government regulation, up from 42%, while 52% of liberal Democrats answered the same, down from 65% two years ago.

Moderate or liberal Republicans and moderate or conservative Democrats continued their pattern of expressing similar views, with 42% of each favoring more regulation in 2020, down from 55% and 54%, respectively, in 2018.

Pew Research Center

The think tank wrote in a blog post, “As Silicon Valley has emerged as a powerful hub for tech innovation and a key player in the global market over the past two decades, critics have challenged some companies for what they perceive to be unfair practices. On July 27, the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will appear together before Congress for the first time, testifying before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee as part of its yearlong investigation into competition in the tech industry. Beyond debates about fair business practices, the tech industry has also come under fire in recent months from a host of critics—from President Donald Trump to civil rights advocates and even tech companies’ own employees.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.