Poll finds majority want government to play role in moderating social media


The majority of American social media users want the government to intervene in moderating content, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

Morning Consult’s survey found that 59 percent of self-described social media users think the government should play a role in regulating how platforms decide what content to keep up or delete.

The majority of all respondents also said they had “not too much” or “no confidence” in social media companies to remove harmful content, including false information, harassment, hate speech and offensive material.

{mosads}Scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators on social media companies’ content moderation policies increased significantly around 2016 because of election interference as well as allegations of anti-conservative bias coming from President Trump and his allies.

A spike in hate crimes with links to internet forums, like the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, Texas, also drew attention to the issue.

Social media platforms have largely taken content moderation into their own hands. In the last year, Twitter has deleted tens of thousands of accounts posting violent content, Facebook has created an oversight board for moderation and Youtube has purged millions of channels that broke their guidelines.

Lawmakers have discussed moderation at length, with some calling for amending, or even gutting, a law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

That law gives websites broad legal immunity for what their users write on their platforms, while also shielding them from liability for taking efforts to moderate their sites as they see fit.

Wednesday’s poll suggests some public support for removing Section 230.

Twenty-one percent of respondents said social media companies are always legally responsible for offensive content shared on their platforms, while 39 percent said they are sometimes legally responsible. Just 9 percent of respondents said companies are never legally responsible for the content.

Morning Consult surveyed 2,072 self-identified social media users between Aug. 21-24. The margin of error for the sample is 2 points.

Tags Donald Trump Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act Social media
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