WASHINGTON (TND) — Positive views of the tech industry are crumbling, and Americans’ trust in social media is waning with it, according to the CATO Institute’s 2021 Speech and Social Media National Survey.
The survey, conducted in collaboration with YouGov, found that three-fourths of the 2,000 respondents don’t trust social media companies to make fair content moderation decisions.
“This view is shared by all ideological groups, although conservatives are more likely to distrust social media companies to be fair in their content moderation,” writes the CATO Institute. The survey’s results showed 72% of staunch liberals, 59% of liberals, 68% of moderates, 90% of conservatives and 88% of strong conservatives said they didn’t trust social media companies to make fair decisions in regard to content moderation.
The computer and internet industries have seen declining favorability since 2020, according to reporting from Gallup, including an all-time low for the computer industry in 2021.
The CATO survey showed 58% of respondents found social media to be a bad thing for society. However, 67% of them said it was a good thing for them personally, which may hint at why, despite negative feelings about social media, Americans continue to use it.
Since Jan. 6, former President Donald Trump has been banned from virtually every major social media platform.
Results from the CATO survey showed 81% of Republicans thought Facebook and Twitter’s ban of former President Trump was a violation of the First Amendment.
Trump’s removal has provided fodder to a movement of conservatives who argue they have been censored on major social media platforms for their views.
The CATO results concluded content from strong conservatives and conservatives is more likely to be penalized on social media platforms than content from individuals identifying as liberal or strongly liberal. Furthermore, liberals were nearly three times more likely than strong conservatives to report another user, or their post, to a social media company for sharing offensive content or false information. An action, which CATO writes, “is highly tied to political ideology.”
Fifty-eight percent of CATO’s respondents said platforms should use the First Amendment as a standard when judging content moderation decisions. However, there is partisan disagreement around using that standard, with a large percentage of Republicans being for it and a large portion of Democrats wanting to let companies set their own rules, according to CATO’s survey.