Image by Jason Howie/ Flickr

Social media has undeniably shaped how all of us consume news and perceive the world. This has resulted in calls from the left and the right to reign in Big Tech – though for different reasons. The left is more concerned about online safety and misinformation and the right is worried about unfair censorship. While much of the backlash is bipartisan, there is dissent about some of the proposed solutions. 

 

Related: Is Social Media Compatible with Democracy?
 

There are many areas of social media issues that both sides agree upon. Here are a few examples of data and stories to support that:

  • The most used social media platform by both parties is YouTube (91% of Republicans, 97% of Democrats) according to Pew Research’s (Center) 2021 data
  • 82% of Republicans, 74% of Democrats, and 83% of Independents sometimes or never trust Facebook to do the right thing, according to the 2021 Harvard Youth Poll. 85% of Republicans and 71% of Democrats, 81% of Independents sometimes or never trust Twitter to do the right thing.
  • In 2021, Chris Coons (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Rob Portman (R-OH) announced a bipartisan bill in an effort to increase Big Tech transparency. The bill would require social media companies to release internal data to independent researchers whose projects have been vetted by the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency. Reuters (Center) has the story
  • Data from The Cato Institute (Lean Right) and YouGov’s 2021 Speech and Social Media Survey found:
    • 69% of strong liberals and 71% of strong conservatives agree that the government does not understand technology enough to regulate it wisely.
    • 61% of strong liberals and strong conservatives and 54% of moderates favor regulation to limit political bias in social media censorship and terms and conditions enforcement. 
    • Majorities of Republicans (86%) and Democrats (66%) agree that the political biases of employees at social media companies influence how they write and enforce rules on what users can say and share on their platforms.
    • Social media companies are distrusted by 72% of staunch liberals, 59% of liberals, 68% of moderates, 90% of conservatives, and 88% of strong conservatives.
    • 62% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans say people should not be able to sue Facebook and Twitter for the content their users post.
    • Most Americans think social media has been good for them personally, but bad for society as a whole. 72% of strong liberals, 73% of liberals, 69% of moderates, 61% of conservatives, and 56% of strong conservatives agree that social media has been good for them personally. Only strong liberals say that social media is good for society (52%), while 52% of liberals, 57% of moderates, 67% of conservatives, and 67% of strong conservatives say it is negative for society.

See more examples of common ground on issues where you might not expect to find it:

 


Clare Ashcraft is the Bridging Intern at AllSides. She has a Center bias.

This piece was reviewed by Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings (Lean Right bias), and Andrew Weinzierl, Director of Research and Data Journalism (Lean Left).