Researchers at the University of South Florida, in partnership with Cyber Florida at USF, have released findings from a nationwide survey to better understand attitudes toward moderation on and regulation of digital platforms. Subjects consist of the regulation of misinformation and offensive content, including among elected officials, as well as perceptions of deplatforming.
Among the key findings:
A majority of Americans think that social media platforms have a negative effect on America’s political climate: A majority (56%) describe the effect of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter on America’s political climate as very or somewhat negative. Only 12% believe that social media platforms have had any positive effect.
Americans have higher expectations for their political officials on social media: A strong majority of respondents (71%) agreed that the posts or comments of political officials should be held to a higher standard than those of the general public by social media companies.
Americans split on allowing false and offensive statements on social media: When asked if people should be allowed to say whatever they want on social media — regardless of whether it is true — over half of respondents (56%) disagreed. However, a majority (55%) agreed that people should be allowed to say whatever they want on social media even if others find it offensive.
Individuals surveyed want more content monitoring from social media companies: Three in four survey respondents (75%) agree that social media companies should do more to monitor the accuracy of content posted on their platforms.
A strong majority of Americans believe false or misleading posts should be removed: Two-thirds of respondents (68%) agreed that, when a social media company deems a post to be false or misleading, it should be removed.
A strong majority believe that offensive or dangerous comments should get users banned: More than two-thirds of respondents (72%) agreed that social media companies should ban those who post content that the platforms deem to be offensive or dangerous.
Despite wanting more moderation, a majority of individuals lack trust in social media platforms to moderate: A majority of respondents (62%) lack trust in social media companies to fairly identify false, misleading and dangerous content.
Almost eight-in-10 individuals surveyed approve of regulation of social media to stop violence: A convincing majority of respondents (78%) agreed that regulation of social media is necessary to prevent organized violent acts.
Most Americans do not think Facebook or Twitter favor a political ideology: A majority of respondents (51% for Facebook and 55% for Twitter) thought that treatment of political posts favored neither liberals nor conservatives. However, on Facebook, 36% viewed treatment as favorable to liberals, and 13% viewed treatment as favorable to conservatives. On Twitter, 36% viewed treatment as favorable to liberals, while 9% viewed treatment as favorable to conservatives.
The survey included a representative sample of 1,000 adult social media users, fielded Nov. 2-8, 2021. Results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error +/-3 %.
The complete survey results can be found here.