Social Media Does the Impossible: Unites Parties in Growing Distrust of Them

November 19, 2018, 2:30 PM UTC

Republicans, Democrats, and Independents may not be able to agree taxes, foreign policy, or immigration. But they increasingly agree that social media do more to hurt free speech and democracy than help, according to a new poll out from Axios.

The survey of 3,622 adults was conducted by SurveyMonkey earlier this month. It showed that over the last year, the adults who thought that social media helped went from 53% to 40%. The ranks of those who said the platforms hurt jumped from 43% to 57%.

Although people with different political party allegiances differed in their total assessment of social media outlets, they all shows significant and similar shifts in their outlooks. Democrats who thought the platforms were good went from 61% to 50%; the number who thought they were bad jumped from 37% to 48%.

At 52%, a majority of Republicans had already thought them a problem last year. That number now stands at 69%, while those with a positive take dropped from 45% to 30%.

Independents were in between the other two groups. Negative takes jumped from 42% to 58%; the number who thought the platforms were good now stands at 39%, versus 55% last year.

The changes in attitude come as one scandal after another has rocked the industry and Congress brought Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in for multi-hour hearings.

A poll conducted for Fortune earlier this month found that Facebook is the least trustworthy of all big tech companies regarding the safety of user data. A recent article from the New York Times that drilled into the company’s responses to multiple crises, and the actions reportedly taken by Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, led to renewed criticism. Even Apple CEO Tim Cook has now called regulation “inevitable” because free market responses failed.

And there probably isn’t an app for that.