By Alan Murray and David Meyer
April 23, 2018

Good morning.

Americans are ready to hit Facebook with new regulations, according to a HarrisX poll taken in the days after Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony. Using a nationally representative sample, the survey found 84% of Americans believe “technology companies should be legally responsible for the content they carry,” 83% said we need “tougher regulations and penalties for breaches of data privacy,” and 53% said tech companies should be regulated the way big banks are. Pro-regulatory sentiment is strongest among baby-boomers, but still relatively strong among GenXers and Millennials.

Not surprisingly, Facebook took the brunt of the public’s wrath, with 49% saying it should be “heavily regulated” and another 39% saying it should be “lightly regulated.” There was less sentiment for heavily regulating Google (34%) even though, as the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend, Google is collecting more data on most people than Facebook is. And there was even less zeal for heavily regulating Apple, Amazon and Microsoft (29%, 27%, and 26%, respectively.)

None of this, of course, means Congress will actually move on the regulatory front anytime soon. Congress’ ability to get its act together and do anything is at historic lows. And a majority of those surveyed expressed doubts about whether the government was capable of regulating technology companies.

Some commentators are pointing out that regulation could actually help Facebook, since it would likely be easier for the social networking giant to meet the regulatory requirements than new or smaller challengers.

By the way, 68% of respondents to the Harris poll believe technology in general is a force for good in the world. Only 14% said it has a negative effect. (Caveat: it’s an online poll, so could tilt a bit toward the technophiles.)

Separately, Apple stock got clobbered on Friday, not because of regulatory fears but because of analyst reports that its new iPhoneX is struggling. The stock is now down 2% since the first of the year.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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