DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Rasmussen Reports poll shows that most voters agree with Donald Trump that there is unfair bias in the practices of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, yet only 33% of them want something to be done about it. The survey was taken in the wake of President Trump issuing an executive order allowing more opportunity for social media companies to be sued for their politically biased interference.
The poll surveyed 1,000 likely voters in the United States and found only 28% believe that those who run social media platforms edit the content on their platforms in a fair and balanced way. Half (50%), on the other hand, say the platforms are politically biased in the decisions they make. Just under a quarter (22%) are undecided. Black people (47%) saw a little less bias than whites (51%); and young adults (45%) saw the bias a little less clearly than did the middle-aged (51%) and elderly adults (57%).
The biggest differences came with political party affiliation and personal ideology. Republicans (68%) believe social media companies are biased while a majority of Democrats don't believe they are (39%). Self-proclaimed conservatives — by a wide margin — see a bias (72% to 17%) while most self-proclaimed liberals said they saw none.
When asked the question of which is better, social media owners regulating their platforms so people won't be offended vs. allowing free speech to stand without interference by the big media companies, a significant majority (54%–26%) say they believe the latter, that there should be no interference by companies like Facebook and Twitter on the content people write.
Though most people believed the social media companies are biased, and that they should not interfere with the content people post on their platforms, they do not believe that companies should be held accountable by being open to legal liability.
The Rasmussen Reports poll was taken May 28 and 31, 2020.
It is no secret that most U.S. journalists support Democrats and "progressive" policies. In over 60 years of endorsing presidential candidates, for example, The Washington Post and New York Times have never endorsed a Republican. This is the case with old as well as new media. Critics of both say that political viewpoints that do not advance progressive ideology and politically correct attitudes are often deemed "misinformation."
Charges of ideological bias with social media platforms is not new. Prager University, which produces short, conservative videos often narrated by academic scholars and professionals in their fields, claimed in 2017 that YouTube had violated its First Amendment rights by flagging some of its videos as "inappropriate."
There is no explicit language, violence or sexual content on the Prager University videos. Yet, they were continuously being flagged for their conservative viewpoints. Dennis Prager took them to court, but last February the court ruled in YouTube's favor. Private companies like YouTube and its parent company Google, said the court, are not bound by the First Amendment.
Other high profile personalities who had problems with social media censors include Alex Jones, who has been banned from YouTube, and Diamond and Silk, who have accused the platform of deleting some of their pro-Trump posts.
Prominent conservative activist Candace Owens was suspended from Twitter after she urged Michigan residents to reopen businesses and get back to work in defiance of stay-at-home orders by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whom she branded a "dictator."
A Twitter representative was quoted as saying that Owens was in violation of new COVID-19 era rules that forbid encouraging individuals to act contrary to official public-health guidance that is intended to reduce the spread of the disease.
President Trump himself was tagged as reporting false or misleading information on Twitter, with two of his tweets. At question was Trump's opinion that mail-in ballots will be the cause of corruption and untrustwothy results. Two days after Trump tore into Twitter for fact-checking his tweets, he signed an executive order aimed at limiting the broad legal protections enjoyed by social media companies. As platforms rather than publishers, they now can be sued for their ideological meddling with the free speech of their users.