Most Utahns say social media platforms should be able to censor what users post, but Republicans and conservatives disagree.
A new Utah Political Trends survey from UtahPolicy.com and Y2 Analytics finds 57% of Utahns say social media sites like Facebook and Twitter should have some control over what users post, while 43% think users should be free to post whatever they want without restriction.
Recently, social media sites have used a tool known as “deplatforming” to kick someone off the sites for breaking the rules by, say, using hate speech or using threatening language or even spreading unfounded conspiracies. In 2018 several prominent right-wing personalities and sites were deplatformed, including Alex Jones, Gavin McInnes, Richard Spencer and Laura Loomer.
Last month Twitter announced they would start flagging tweets from politicians, most notably President Donald Trump, that may violate the rules. Pinterest banned boards by a number of prominent anti-vaccine groups and eliminated the ability for users to search for anti-vaccine information.
Conservatives have long believed social media platforms are more likely to censor their content, which is reflected in the polling results. 60% of self-described “strong” Republicans and 68% of “strong” conservatives in Utah say social media users should be able to share content freely without regulation.
Kelly Patterson of Y2 Analytics says it’s possible to infer those on the right side of the political spectrum feel more aggrieved, but it’s impossible to know for sure.
“My guess it could be a little of the belief that media platforms might discriminate, a belief that some media outlets are biased (insert your favorite Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh rant here), or the libertarian tilt that strong conservatives and Republicans have. In that worldview, there is no need for censorship at all because they ardently belief in Mill’s postulation that the best ideas emerge through a competition of all ideas,” he said.
Democrats and liberals overwhelmingly favor allowing sites to exercise restrictions on the types of content users can share.
Older Utahns tend to believe social media platforms should be able to police content posted on their sites, while younger voters are divided.
Utahns 18-34 years old are evenly split on the question, with 51% favoring control over social media posts and 49% believing there should be no restrictions.
Those between 35-44 say they favor limiting the type of content that can be shared 56-44% as do Utahns between 45-54.
Older Utahns also come down in favor of allowing social media sites to limit what users share with 63% of those between 55-64 and 65% who are over the age of 65 agreeing.
The Utah Political Trends Panel was conducted among a random sample of 2,608 registered Utah voters using an online survey. The results were weighted to reflect Utah’s demographic makeup. The survey has a margin of error +/- 2.1%. You can read more about the survey’s methodology here.