Fewer Americans Want Government to Regulate Big Tech, Pew . Study Says

Americans are divided on whether the government should do more to hold tech companies accountable, and fewer are in favor of more regulation than they were last year, a Pew poll released today shows. Last year, more than half (56 percent) of Americans wanted more regulation of Big Tech. Now only 44 percent of Americans want more government enforcement from tech companies. And the number of respondents who want it less government regulation of the tech industry has doubled this year, from nine percent to 20 percent.

But those results shouldn’t suggest that the public has a rosier view of Big Tech or trusts tech companies to do well. The majority of respondents still believe – as they have done – that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others censor political points that the companies find objectionable. More than three-quarters (or 77 percent) of Americans believe that social media platforms will behave this way by 2022, which is only a slight increase from recent years.

As we’ve seen in the past, more Republicans than Democrats feel that certain political views are targeted on social media — 92 percent of Republicans say censorship is likely to occur, compared to 66 percent of Democrats. And in recent years, the belief that social platforms possess and act on prejudice against conservatives has become such a common topic of conversation among right-wing lawmakers that the Senate held hearings on the subject during Trump’s presidency. According to an analysis by Politico, reports from conservative media and right-wing media influences are more likely to go viral. Similarly, a New York University study found that social media platform algorithms are more likely to empower conservatives than impartial or liberal figures. But even among left-wing respondents, belief in political censorship among platforms has risen steadily over the past two years, according to Pew’s poll. While not as drastic as their Republican counterparts, a majority of Democrats (66 percent) continue to believe that platforms censor based on political beliefs, up from 62 percent in 2018 and just 59 percent in 2020.

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