Bulletins

Misinfo or censorship? Americans are split on tech's biggest concern

A new survey finds Republicans and Democrats have dramatically different views about the biggest problems facing tech.

Misinfo or censorship? Americans are split on tech's biggest concern

Social media apps on a home screen.

Photo by Adem AY on Unsplash

Americans overwhelmingly believe that social media makes it easier to spread misinformation and fake news, a new survey found, but they're divided along stark partisan lines when it comes to how heavily they weigh that concern against other issues, like censorship.


The survey by Gallup and The Knight Foundation included responses from 9,000 adults, who were asked about their views on social media's positive and negative effects, as well as whether they view fake news or censorship as a more serious problem. Some 90% of respondents agreed that misinformation spreads more easily on social media. Another 89% said it makes it easier to spread extreme points of view.

But the agreement between parties ended there, with 80% of Democrats saying fake news is a bigger problem than censorship, compared to 37% of Republicans. Some 46% of Republicans, meanwhile, ranked censorship as a more serious problem, compared to just 8% of Democrats.

The split mirrors the division that exists in Washington, where lawmakers continue to argue collectively that tech platforms need fixing, but often for strikingly different reasons. The study suggests that their constituencies may feel the same.

Still, despite these partisan differences, the survey did find that among all respondents, more people are concerned about the threat of fake news than censorship, with 61% of respondents overall citing fake news as a bigger concern. Only about a quarter of respondents overall said the same about censorship.

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