A majority of Americans wants the government to regulate technology companies—a significant change after revelations that Russia used online services such as Facebook to influence the 2016 election.
According to an Axios-Survey Monkey poll, concern about government inaction is up significantly—15 percentage points—in the past three months.
Says Axios: “That’s a seismic shift in the public’s perception of Silicon Valley over a short period of time. It shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but it also reflects a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, as well as the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.”
In a previous Axios-Survey Monkey poll in November, just after Facebook, Google, and Twitter testified before Congress, only about 40 percent of those polled were concerned that the government wouldn’t do enough to regulate the tech companies.
That number jumped to 55 percent in the latest poll. That includes 45 percent of Republicans, who are usually skeptical about government regulation. Independents showed the biggest shift with an increase of 20 percentage points.
The poll found a variety of other problems those polled see in the tech sector:
–More than eight out of 10, including significant majorities across party lines, blame the technology companies for not doing enough to safeguard their platforms against election interference.
–Fifty-five percent of those polled think social media do more to hurt democracy and free speech.
The online survey was conducted by Survey Monkey from February 21-23, 2018, among 3,574 adults in the United States. They were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the Survey Monkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is 2.5 percentage points. Crosstabs available here.
A recent analysis in The Wall Street Journal described Facebook as “tone deaf.”
“It isn’t clear whether the Russian activity on Facebook made a difference in the election, a position some Facebook executives still privately maintain, and no evidence has emerged that it tipped the result to President Donald Trump. What is clear, however, is that the social-media giant’s months-long obliviousness to deepening public concern about its social impact has worsened a backlash against it and other Silicon Valley giants,” The Journal wrote. For more, see https://www.wsj.com/articles/tone-deaf-how-facebook-misread-americas-mood-on-russia-1520006034
Moreover, Google, Facebook, and other technology giants have a decidedly leftist tilt. Many top leaders give huge contributions to the Democrats.
A recent analysis found that “a majority of the most-engaged partisan Facebook pages are left-leaning or affiliated with Trump resistance movements, according to NewsWhip, a social analytics measurement company. The firm looked at the engagement (likes, comments, and shares) of partisan pages in Trump’s first full month as president. Even more telling is that most of the left-leaning pages are out-performing some of the most trafficked news competitors in overall engagement.”
Google, Facebook, and Twitter loomed large at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference, where participants squeezed into a standing-room-only ballroom for a discussion called “Suppression of Conservative Views on Social Media: A First Amendment Issue.”
Moreover, a new film by Peter Schweizer, a journalist known for his investigations into Hillary Clinton, focuses on technology companies and their role in filtering the news. Even The New York Times noted the upcoming motion picture: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/business/media/paul-schweizer-google-facebook.html
Although I am not a huge fan of government regulation, I just about have had it with the social media giants. I happy to know that I’m in the majority for a change.