Just over half of voters approve of social media decisions to lock down President Donald Trump’s accounts, a new HuffPost / YouGov survey find.
The poll was conducted last Thursday through Monday, a period covering Trump’s initial and temporary suspension from Twitter and his possible permanent ban from the site. In a blog post about the permanent suspension, Twitter said it did so “because of the risk of further incitement to violence.” Other outlets, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitch, also banned the outgoing president indefinitely.
A slim majority of voters, 54%, say they approve of social media companies deciding to ban Trump from posting for at least some time. Another 39% disapprove. The results are, unsurprisingly, politically polarized: 87% of Joe Biden’s voters approve, compared with just 16% of voters who backed Trump in last year’s election.
Few voters, regardless of party, believe that Trump’s presence on Twitter – the network he has used most prolifically – has done him a favor. Only 19% of voters, including 15% of Biden voters and 26% of Trump voters, say they think Trump’s tweets have generally helped his cause. Half of the electorate say Trump’s tweets usually hurt his cause. Others felt Trump’s tweets neither helped nor hurt him, or said they weren’t sure.
Most Americans are not on Twitter. The inordinate power of Trump’s Twitter presence came not only from his followers on the site, but also from the way his missives were frequently cited in news reports. Only 10% of voters say they generally learned something Trump posted by seeing his tweets directly on Twitter, while 70% said they were more likely to see or hear reports on his tweets. Trump and Biden voters were much more likely to learn of Trump’s tweets indirectly than directly.
The survey also reveals a broad public consensus that social media has a duty to regulate the content that appears on their sites. A majority of 71% of voters say media like Facebook and Twitter have a responsibility to stop users from harassing others on their site, with 69% saying they have a responsibility to stop users from posting hateful speech or racist content, and 61% that they have a responsibility to prevent users from spreading conspiracy theories or false information.
Opinions on this have changed little since a previous investigation last October. As was the case then, there are important divisions, both political and demographic. Biden voters, for example, are 50 points more likely than Trump voters to say that social media has a responsibility to prevent the publication of conspiracy theories. Female voters are 11 points more likely than male voters to say that sites have a responsibility to prevent harassment.
When asked how social media regulates the content posted on their sites, 43% say the effort is not strict enough, 25% say it is too strict, 16% say it is fair and the rest uncertain . In terms of bias, 38% believe these outlets are generally biased in favor of liberal views, with only 10% believing that they are generally biased toward conservative views. Another 25% think they are not biased anyway, the rest are unsure. These views have also remained largely stable since the fall.
Use the widget below to further explore the HuffPost / YouGov survey results, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:
The HuffPost / YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Jan. 7-11 among registered voters in the United States, using a sample selected from YouGov’s online opt-in panel to match demographics and data. other characteristics of the population.
HuffPost has partnered with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can find out more about this project and to take part in YouGov’s representative national opinion poll. More details on the survey methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error which represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which is based on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard random sampling methodology. If these assumptions are wrong, the margin of error based on the model may also be inaccurate.
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