80% of Americans distrust tech companies’ content moderation

Majority of respondents prefer an independent content oversight board to govern content moderation policies

Most Americans don’t trust social media companies to decide what content they should allow on their respective platforms, but they trust them more than they do the government, according to a survey by Gallup and the Knight Foundation.

The survey, which was released on Tuesday, comes at a time when debates surrounding content moderation on social media platforms have intensified.

Though 8 in 10 respondents said they don’t trust tech companies to make the right content moderation decisions, 55% preferred companies making such rules, rather than governments. Overall, more than 8 in 10 respondents said they would prefer an independent content oversight board to manage policies related to content moderation.

The survey also found that 65% of Americans favor allowing social media users to express their views on social media, even if those views may be deemed offensive. Further, 85% of survey respondents were in favor of removing intentionally false or misleading health information and 81% were in support of removing intentionally misleading claims related to elections and other political issues.  

When it comes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 54% of respondents claim the law has done more harm than good because it doesn’t hold social media companies accountable for illegal content posted on their sites. Meanwhile, 44% say Section 230 has done more good than harm because it’s provided social media users with a place to communicate and share their views.

Oddly enough, 66% of Americans support keeping Section 230, while only 31% favor changing the law.

Over the last few weeks, social media platforms have repeatedly come under fire for their content moderations policies. Last month, Twitter fact-checked and restricted tweets from President Donald Trump, citing misinformation and his alleged glorification of violence. 

Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign published an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling on Facebook to fact-check politicians’ ads, promote real rather than fake news and remove viral misinformation on the platform.

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