Most voters support new rules for social media companies on children, personal data: poll

Most voters support further federal regulation of social media companies, especially regarding creating rules and standards to protect children and manage personal data, according to a new survey from the progressive polling firm Data for Progress.

The survey found that just over half, 56 percent, of likely voters said the federal government should do more to regulate social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to stop behavior that incites violence or endangers minors’ mental and physical health. 

However, just 48 percent of Republicans said the federal government should do more to regulate the companies versus the 67 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents who said the same. 

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The poll found even more support from likely voters when asked if they support the government creating new rules and standards for the social media companies to better protect children online. Overall, 78 percent of voters said they support the new rules, including 87 percent of Democrats And 73 percent of Republicans. 

Seventy-eight percent of surveyed likely voters also said they support the federal government creating new rules and standards for the companies to better manage the collection and use of personal data, including 85 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Republicans, based on the poll. 

Survey respondents also expressed support for the government creating new rules and standards for social media companies to “discourage” the spread of misinformation online. The poll found 72 percent of respondents said they support creating new rules on that front, including 86 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Republicans, according to the poll. 

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have proposed plans to modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides a legal liability shield of tech companies for content posted on their sites by third parties.

Democrats have largely pushed for reform to help combat misinformation and hate speech, whereas Republicans have put forward plans for changing Section 230 based on unsubstantiated accusations that the companies are censoring anti-conservative content. 

The Data for Progress poll surveyed 1,209 likely voters nationally Nov. 5-8. There is a margin of error of 3 percentage points. 

The survey was conducted amid increased scrutiny of tech companies, especially Facebook, which has been the focus of reports based on documents leaked by company whistleblower Frances Haugen. 

Facebook has pushed back on the reports, arguing they mischaracterize the company’s internal research.