If there’s any consensus in politics to be had today, it may come in the form of a mutual distrust of social media platforms, according to Bloomberg. In a recent survey result put out by Pew Research Center this week, the findings show that nearly three quarters (72 percent) of those adult Americans polled think that it’s likely that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are actively censoring political views and expressions that they find objectionable.
One metric measured was the percentage of adult Americans who think it is either likely or unlikely that social media sites are intentionally censoring political viewpoints they find objectionable.
Perhaps predictably, those polled whom identified as Republican or as independent conservatives were most convinced that social media censorship takes place regularly, with 85 percent of this cohort reporting that it was “somewhat likely” or “very likely.” However, a firm majority of those respondents that identified as Democrats or leaning in that direction also replied in the affirmative, with 62 perfcent also saying it was “somewhat likely” or “very likely.”
The results break along partisan lines to some degree, but it is here, where they find confluence, that the data becomes more interesting. Drilling down a little bit deeper into another survey question, one in which those polled were asked whether the bias of the technology companies favored liberals over conservatives, conservatives over liberals, or both equally, the Republican and Democrat respondents agreed again, though with less cohesion.
Sixty-four percent of right-leaning respondents, perhaps unsurprisingly, said that the tech companies supported the views of liberals over conservatives. However, 28 percent of left-leaning respondents agreed with this narrative, while only 16 percent of Democrats and those inclined leftward said that social media platforms favored the views of conservatives over liberals. This lends some credence to the argument that both conservatives and liberals can agree that there is, at least, a public perception of social media censorship in favor of left-leaning views and news stories.
This is a sentiment borne out for some time now in the political sphere, with one recent high profile example coming from Republican Senator Ted Cruz as he questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the latter’s congressional testimony in April of this year.
“There are a great many Americans who I would say are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship,” Cruz said.
It would seem that Senator Cruz’s concerns are substantiated by the like-minded suspicions held by his electorate – at least according to these most recent survey results.
Finally, the question of whether or not silicon valley giants should be regulated was put to the survey sample.
Conservatives in the polling group were more likely to oppose regulation than their left-leaning counterparts, despite the large majority of the cohort feeling like they were being censored and unfairly represented by the platforms. This aligns with boilerplate political science regarding the Republican platform and policy positions wherein, typically, the party and it’s supporters reject government regulation in support of free market solutions. Democrats, despite being the net beneficiaries of the perceived social media bias, were more likely to support increased regulation of the service, according to Bloomberg.
This survey by Pew was conducted with a sample size of 4,594 U.S. adults from May 29 to June 1 of this year, according to Broadcasting Cable. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.