Poll: Americans split on role of social media in news

Poll: Americans split on role of social media in news
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Forty-seven percent of Americans say they are comfortable with social networks like Facebook and Snapchat deciding what news they see, according to a new poll.

Though less than half, the figure is nonetheless a plurality: 34 percent told Morning Consult they were not very comfortable or not comfortable, and 20 percent said they did not know or have an opinion on the matter.

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The poll comes as Facebook looks to fend off allegations that an anti-conservative bias skewed the stories in its trending topics section, which is produced in part by human editors. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet with conservative leaders at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on Wednesday.

More people were uncomfortable with the control Facebook and others have over the visibility of news when they were first presented with a paragraph comparing them to distribution channels like roads rather than the newspapers that are delivered using that infrastructure, according to Morning Consult.

Thirty-one percent said "reader interest" should determine what news users see on social media networks. Only 11 percent said editors should make that decision, but 29 percent said it should be a combination of the two.

Less than half of Americans are significantly aware of the bias allegations against Facebook. Forty-eight percent of people had heard some or a lot about them, while 52 percent had not heard much or had heard nothing at all.

Of the people who had heard about the allegations, 31 percent had heard about them through television news programming. Another 18 percent, the second-largest group, had heard about it through Facebook.

The poll had a total sample of 2,000 registered voters and was conducted between May 13 and 15.