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Few Americans are confident in tech companies to prevent misuse of their platforms in the 2020 election

Americans have little confidence in technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to prevent the misuse of their platforms to influence the 2020 presidential election. Above, workers in Facebook’s “war room” in Menlo Park, California, in 2018. (Noah Berger/AFP via Getty Images)

Three-quarters of U.S. adults say technology companies have a responsibility to prevent the misuse of their platforms to influence the 2020 presidential election, but only around a quarter say they are very or somewhat confident in these firms to do so, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted July 27-Aug. 2. The survey comes as Facebook and other major tech companies make efforts to limit political misinformation ahead of the November election.

Most Americans say tech companies have responsibility to prevent misuse of their platforms to influence the election

Since 2018, majorities of Americans have said that tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google have a responsibility to prevent misuse of their platforms to influence elections. However, the share of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who say tech companies have this responsibility has declined since January, from 75% to 64%. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, an overwhelming majority continues to say tech companies are responsible for preventing misuse of their platforms (85% today, up from 81% in January).

There is a much wider partisan gap on whether social media companies should label posts by elected officials and ordinary users as inaccurate or misleading, according to a separate survey conducted by the Center in June. Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say social media companies should do this kind of labeling.

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand Americans’ views of technology companies and the 2020 election. For this analysis, we conducted an online survey of 11,001 U.S. adults between July 27 and Aug. 2, 2020. A random half sample of respondents (5,500) were asked the two questions in this post.

Everyone who took part is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology. Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Public expresses little confidence in tech companies to prevent misuse of their platforms to affect election

In the more recent survey, 73% of adults say they are not too confident or not at all confident in technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to prevent the misuse of their platforms to influence the 2020 presidential election. About a quarter (27%) say they are at least somewhat confident.

Overall, these views have changed little since January. But Americans are now more likely to say they have little or no confidence in tech companies to prevent misuse than they were in October 2018, when 66% said this.

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Since 2018, majorities in both parties have expressed little confidence in technology companies to prevent misuse of their platforms for election influence.

The share of Republicans who say they have little or no confidence has not changed much since January (78% now vs. 76% then), but the share who say they are not at all confident has risen from 33% to 43% in the same time span. Democrats are now slightly less likely than in January to say they are not too or not at all confident in tech companies to prevent misuse of their platforms (69% now vs. 74% then).

Black and Hispanic adults express more confidence in tech companies to prevent misuse of their platforms

Large majorities of adults in all age groups say tech companies have a responsibility to prevent misuse of their platforms, but older Americans are somewhat more likely to say this. Around eight-in-ten of those ages 65 and older (79%) say this, compared with seven-in-ten among those ages 18 to 29.

Younger adults, in turn, are more likely than their older counterparts to have confidence in tech companies to prevent misuse of their platforms. Nearly a third (32%) of adults under 30 say they are at least somewhat confident in tech companies to prevent misuse, compared with 22% of adults 65 and up.

Black and Hispanic adults are more likely than White adults to be confident in tech companies to prevent misuse. Around four-in-ten Black (38%) and Hispanic (43%) adults have at least some confidence in tech companies to do so, compared with 20% of White adults.

Note: This is an update of a post originally published on Feb. 24, 2020. Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

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