Two-Thirds of US Adults Believe Social Networks Should Remove Offensive Political Content – Adweek

Political discourse in the U.S. has become more and more heated over the past few years, and social networking sites are natural destinations for these types of discussions. But should social platforms be responsible for removing potentially offensive content that results when debates cross the line?

A majority of Americans believe this responsibility should fall to social platforms, but confidence in those platforms’ ability to do so is not strong, according to a new survey of 10,170 U.S. adults that Pew Research Center conducted from April 29 through May 13.

The issues aren’t confined to social platforms. The majority of respondents said, in recent years, the tone and nature of political debate has become more negative, less respectful, less fact-based and less substantive.

One-half of respondents find discussing politics with people they disagree with is “stressful and frustrating,” according to Pew.

President Donald Trump’s adventures on Twitter have been well documented, and Pew found that 55% of respondents believe he changed the tone and nature of political debate in America for the worse, with 24% believing the opposite and 20% saying he has had little impact.

Trump’s comments often made respondents feel concerned (76%), confused (70%), embarrassed (69%) or exhausted (67%), while 54% said they are sometimes entertained.

As for social platforms overall, 66% of respondents to the Pew survey believe they have a responsibility to remove offensive content, with more Democrats (77%) than Republicans (52%) sharing this belief.

Pew Research Center

In other demographic categories, women (72%) were more likely than men (59%) to assign this responsibility to social networks, while black respondents (74%) were more likely to do so than Hispanic (66%) and white (64%) respondents.

By age, 73% of respondents older than 65 believe the responsibility of content removal falls to social platforms, compared with just 59% of 18- to 29-year-olds.

Pew Research Center

However, only 31% of respondents said they have at least a fair amount of confidence in social networks’ ability to decide which content should be removed, and just 4% have a great deal of confidence. Democrats (37%) were more confident than Republicans (23%).

Women (36%) were more likely than men (25%) to express at least a fair amount of confidence in social networking sites, and the same was true for black respondents (48%) over Hispanic (40%) and white (25%) respondents; and younger people (38% of those 18-29) over older respondents (24% of those 65 and up).

Pew Research Center

Finally, among respondents who said it is very important for them personally to use language that doesn’t offend others, 77% believe social platforms should be responsible for purging offensive content, but just 44% of those who do not feel that using inoffensive language is important felt it should be the platforms’ responsibilities.

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