Three out of 4 registered voters believe social media companies have too much influence over what news the public reads, according to a new poll, with a majority also seeing these platforms as politically biased.
A Washington Examiner/YouGov poll found that 76% thought social media companies had too much influence, compared to just 6% who said too little and 11% who picked about the right level of influence. The majority includes 82% of Republicans, 71% of Democrats, and 73% of independents.
These results come after social media giants Facebook and Twitter suppressed sharing a story about emails purportedly obtained from a computer belonging to Hunter Biden that could create political problems for his father, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, shortly before the election. Republicans have charged Twitter and Facebook with making an “in-kind contribution” to Biden’s campaign by preventing users from sharing the news on their platforms. Conservatives have been pressing Senate Republicans to hold hearings on the social media companies’ handling of this story soon.
In the same poll, the public is split on the question of whether the former vice president has been honest about his son’s business activities in other countries.
A plurality of registered voters, 39%, believe social media bans have been biased against the Republican Party. This includes a huge majority of Republicans at 82% and a plurality of independents at 37%, though only 6% of Democrats agree.
Another 20% of registered voters believe that social media is biased against both parties. This includes 28% of Democrats and 26% of independents, though only 6% of Republicans agree.
Just 9% think social media content bans are biased against Democrats, with 2% of Republicans and 6% of independents agreeing. Even among Democrats, this figure stands at only 15%.
There is broad support for Congress regulating social media companies to limit potential bias, with 55% saying they should, 25% saying they should not, and another 20% saying they did not know. The poll found that 69% of Republicans support such regulations, which have been advocated by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and other GOP lawmakers. But Democrats also back potential regulations by 18 points and independents by 15.
Still, 57% said social media companies should restrict content they believe to be false. Democrats are most strongly supportive of this idea at 83%, with Republicans most opposed at 63%. Independents say these platforms should restrict content they think is false by 53% to 37%.
These numbers also reflect greater Republican distrust of companies such as Facebook and Twitter, while Democrats have more confidence in their ability to regulate content fairly.
Hawley sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week alleging political bias in content moderation after an anti-abortion group’s ads were restricted. “Facebook’s censors have apparently been busy this week,” the senator wrote. “Your company’s decision to restrict the spread of a story reporting on corruption allegations surrounding Hunter Biden is now a matter of national news and the subject of congressional inquiries. That makes it all the more inexplicable — or, perhaps, all the more frustratingly predictable — that Facebook would choose this same week to target pro-life content on its platform.”
President Trump, a prolific Twitter user, has often complained of social media bias and suggested reforms to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to combat it. Conservatives and Republicans have become more skeptical of Big Tech and more willing to contemplate government regulation of Silicon Valley under Trump’s administration.
The Washington Examiner/YouGov poll was conducted among 1,200 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.