Just the Facts

No Labels-Harris Poll: Majority Says Social Media Pulls Americans Apart

By No Labels
April 16, 2018 | Blog

The latest No Labels-Harris poll shows that a slight majority believe social media platforms life (like)  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pull Americans apart rather than bringing them together.


Fifty-one percent said that social media pulls Americans apart while 49 percent said it brings Americans together. The results are interesting because social media platforms have been under government and media scrutiny for months as questions of privacy and their role in elections drew the eye of regulators and legislators. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, spent two days testifying before Congress last week. One might think that public sentiment would be less favorable.


But the value of being able to connect easily with friends, family and information is powerful, and so the numbers are not decisive. The country has not swung heavily for or against social media as a unifying force.


Divided opinions


Despite the top-line numbers, the poll showed that gender, age and party affiliation impacted opinions. Democrats were more likely to say social media brings Americans together (53%), while Republicans and Independents were more likely to say it pulls Americans apart (both 52%)


Men were more likely to say it pulls Americans apart (53%), while women were less so (49%). Respondents aged 18 to 34 were more likely to say it pulls Americans apart (54%), while those aged 35 to 44 were less likely (46%). The poll was conducted by Harris Insights & Analytics April 10 to 12 and surveyed 2,026 adults.


Last week’s hearings sparked major discussions over whether Congress should regulate social media companies. Mark Penn, the author, pollster and former chief strategy officer for Microsoft, summed up the situation in a New York Times op-ed last week.


“Many of Facebook’s current problems began when the company realized that people really do care about news, and not just sports, dating and entertainment. The company moved away from its origins as a way for users to connect toward becoming a media organization, carrying feeds that ranked and distributed news content,” he wrote.


“As social media distribution of news — real and fake — mushroomed, government authorities neglected to give these changes the same careful study they gave to TV and radio when those technologies were new. And yet Facebook and its properties, which include Instagram, now reach two-thirds of America for an average of 35 minutes a day—the broadcasting power and reach of hundreds of radio and TV stations.”


While it is unclear whether Congress will attempt to regulate social media giants like Facebook in an election year, the issue is not likely to fade away.

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