If you haven’t yet seen the latest Gallup survey, American public opinion is significantly turning on big tech. The latest survey compares American attitudes on big tech as well as to the level of government regulation. Frankly I’m not surprised and neither should you be. The sheer size, market dominance, influence on politics and society and protection from liability when hate speech occurs are worrying.
Overall, 45% of American adults said they have negative views of big tech, which Gallup defined as “technology companies, such as Amazon, Facebook and Google”. 34% had positive views while 20% remained neutral.
The number of those with positive views declined — from 46% in mid-2019. At the same time, negative views increased from 33% in mid-2019 to 45%. Moreover, those with a “very” negative view doubled from 10% to 22%.
At the same time, the percentage of those who think that Washington should increase regulation on tech firms rose by 48% to 57%. Those seeking less regulation remained stable, but those saying the current amount is appropriate shrank significantly from 40% to 28%.
Gallup conducted the survey just after the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. If you recall, rioters and protesters stormed the Capitol, encouraged by President Trump via his Twitter account. He was subsequently suspended and then banned from Twitter and Facebook for inciting violence. As conservative voices started migrating to Parler, Google, Amazon and Apple removed it from their platform.
Americans have been concerned by big tech for some time. A previous poll conducted in September of 2020 found that many American were worried about a number of big-tech related issues — including misinformation, the companies’ influence, hate speech, privacy issues and possible foreign manipulation of American elections.
Republican voters tend to be more concerned than Democratic voters. Thus, if 37% pf Republicans had negative views in 2019, they now stand at 65%. The same can be said of independent voters (33%-44%). Democrat voters did not change as compared to 2019. Gallup assesses that the dip in Republican support is due to a perceived anti-conservative bias on social media platforms and search engines.
I have long claimed, and Gallup seems to agree, that reining in big tech could be a rare occasion for bi-partisan cooperation to enact greater government regulation on big tech. Even though, and as the article points out, Democrats and Republicans, want greater regulation for different reasons. Republicans seem more focused on censorship while Democrats more on misinformation and hate speech. Perhaps we can all agree that many of these companies have simply grown too large and dominant — in every space imaginable.
A good place to start is to repeal section 230 — which provides social media and internet content platforms protection from liability for allowing hate speech and calls to violence to take place on their digital property. This too could be a welcomed step in helping reign in and regulate big tech.
When Americans seem so divided on…well everything, its nice to see something most of us can agree on.