Views of big tech firms worsen over past 18 months: poll

Views of big tech firms worsen over past 18 months: poll
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Americans’ perceptions of big tech companies have steadily deteriorated over the past 18 months as titans like Facebook, Twitter and Amazon receive an avalanche of bipartisan criticism, according to a new poll.

A new Gallup poll released Thursday shows that 45 percent of those surveyed have “somewhat” or “very” negative views of large tech companies, which were defined in the survey as firms “such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.”

The percent of respondents who had “somewhat” negative views remained the same from when the poll was taken in August 2019 — 23 percent — but the percentage of those with “very” negative views jumped from 10 percent to 22 percent. 

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Meanwhile, just 34 percent of respondents have “somewhat” or “very” positive views of Big Tech. The percentage with “somewhat” positive views dropped from 31 percent to 23 percent, and the percentage of those with “very” positive views fell from 15 percent to 11 percent. 

The declining views of large tech companies coincide with a rise in the percentage of Americans who think the government should increase regulations on the firms.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said Washington should impose more regulations, a jump from 48 percent in 2019, while calls for decreased regulation stayed statistically the same.

The poll comes as both Democrats and Republicans rail against companies like Facebook and Twitter for various practices. Liberals have berated the platforms for what they say is a failure to take strong enough action to curtail hate speech and disinformation, while conservatives have accused social media companies of putting dampers on right-leaning pages. 

Changes in public opinion of the tech titans are particularly stark among Republicans and independents. The percentage of self-identified Republicans polled who had positive views of the firms fell from 43 percent to 20 percent, while support from independents in the survey fell from 43 percent to 33 percent. Positive views among Democratic respondents held steady at 49 percent. 

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Support for increased regulation is bipartisan, with majorities of Republicans, independents and Democrats backing boosted oversight. In 2019, fewer than 50 percent of Republicans and independents polled supported more regulation.

“Views of Big Tech have grown more negative as the industry has drawn the ire of Republicans who view it as anti-conservative. Although Democrats view large technology companies positively on balance, they join Republicans in supporting increased government regulation of them as concerns have arisen about their size and power,” Gallup wrote.

“There is bipartisan agreement about some antitrust issues as they relate to the large technology companies, although partisans disagree about how to address them. Beyond this, they also disagree about what regulations need to address, with Republicans focusing on the alleged censoring of conservative voices, while Democrats see a need for addressing misinformation and hate speech online," the polling firm added.

The Gallup poll surveyed 906 adults from Jan. 21-Feb. 6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The poll was conducted after the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

In reaction to the insurrection by the pro-Trump mob, Twitter permanently suspended then-President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE from its platform, while Facebook indefinitely banned him. Google, Amazon and Apple also removed the social media platform Parler, which has gained popularity among conservatives.