Poll shocker: 82% believe there is social media news bias; too much control

(Image: Pixabay)

A majority of Americans on both sides of the political aisle believe social media companies are biased and have too much control over news on their sites.

A new study has found that an amazing 82 percent of Americans see the big tech companies as favoring certain news organizations over others.

“About eight-in-ten U.S. adults (82%) say social media sites treat some news organizations differently than others, about five times the share saying all news organizations are treated the same (16%),” the new data from Pew Research revealed.

“Americans are most concerned about biased and inaccurate news on social media; many say the news content they see leans left,” the report added.

The survey, which was conducted among 5,107 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel from July 8-21, 2019, also found that 75 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Democrats believe these companies “have too much control over the mix of news that people see.”

According to the Pew study:

The largest social media platforms control the content on their feeds using computer algorithms that rank and prioritize posts and other content tailored to the interests of each user. These sites allow users to customize these settings, though previous research has found that many Americans feel uncertain about why certain posts appear in their news feed on Facebook specifically. Social media companies have also been public about their efforts to fight both false information and fake accounts on their sites.

But 62 percent of Americans feel the companies have too much control in this area and 55 percent of those surveyed feel all those efforts make for a worse mix of news for users overall.

And Americans voiced their beliefs about the bias in the way social media companies treat some news organizations differently than others, with 88 percent saying these companies give a higher priority to organizations that “produce attention-grabbing articles.”

Another 84 percent feel the number of social media followers influences the treatment the news sites receive and a clear majority — 79 percent — feel the social media companies favor those organizations with a certain political stance.

“Nearly half of social media news consumers (48%) describe the posts about news they see there as liberal or very liberal. A much smaller share – 14% – say the news posts they see are conservative or very conservative, while 36% say the news they see is moderate,” the Pew report stated.

These concerns have been voiced by many conservative news organizations, pubic figures and even President Trump who recently met with the heads of the companies, like Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, to discuss accusations of bias.

(Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

And with many conservative users being censored on social media in recent months, the White House launched a new tool to report instances of online censorship by the social media companies.

Facebook recently announced that it will be launching its News Tab mobile app and was hiring a “small team” of “seasoned” journalists to select breaking news and popular stories, a move that concerns many conservatives who feel the social media giant will be given even more power in controlling what viewers can see.

(Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Trump responded with a critical tweet in August.

The Pew Research study also indicated that many Americans are concerned with the “overall low quality of news available” on the social media sites. One-sided news was seen to be a major problem for more than half of those surveyed, 53 percent, while 51 percent pointed to inaccurate news as a major problem.


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Frieda Powers


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