Science, Technology, and Social Media

Ignorance: Majority Of Americans Want Facebook to Censor More Content

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A majority of Americans say Facebook should censor more content and impose stricter standards for what appears on its platform, according to a new poll.

Just over two-thirds of Americans say they somewhat or strongly support Facebook imposing “stricter content standards to prohibit harmful content,” which includes content promoting “misinformation, hate speech, illicit activity, or acts of violence” according to the results of a poll released Tuesday by Morning Consult. Similarly, 66% say they support Facebook expanding its capacity to censor and remove content.

Nearly 70% of Americans also back Facebook increasing the age of eligibility to use the platform, while 60% say they would prefer their News Feed to be ordered chronologically, rather than by an algorithm.

The poll, conducted from Oct. 8 to Oct. 12, follows testimony on Oct. 5 from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen who called for reform of Facebook’s recommendation algorithms in order to curb the spread of “misinformation” and content she deemed harmful. Haugen had leaked documents to The Wall Street Journal published in mid-September detailing how Facebook’s algorithms promote and amplify incendiary content, as well as images and posts shown to be harmful to teen users.

The results of the poll run contrary to what many prominent Republican critics of Big Tech, such as Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Jim Jordan, see as the central problem with social media companies. Republicans have pushed for legislation curbing the ability of tech companies to censor content, citing political bias in content moderation.

In her testimony Haugen called for Congress to take action against Facebook and other social media companies, a suggestion supported by a majority of Americans. Over three-quarters of Americans say Congress should pass laws implementing stronger protections for child users, while roughly two-thirds say Congress should require platforms to be more transparent about their algorithms and internal research.

Facebook attracted controversy in August for disabling the accounts of New York University researchers that were attempting to study misinformation in political ads that circulated on the platform. 

A strong majority of 64% also back Congress imposing “at least some liability” on social media platforms, while 61% say there should be a federal agency that investigates algorithms.

Overall, 60% of Americans say Facebook does not do enough to protect its users. The poll sampled 2,200 respondents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2%.

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