Facebook, Twitter Failing To Earn Voter Trust

Ahead of the upcoming primary and presidential elections, social giants have been racing to assure users that the information on their platforms can be trusted.

Despite these efforts, nearly three in four Americans (74%) have little or no confidence that these companies can prevent the spread of political misinformation.

That’s according to a new report from the Pew Research Center, which also found that nearly eight in 10 Americans believe t Facebook, Twitter, and other networks are responsible for stopping the spread of such misinformation.

Illustrating the pervasiveness of such perceptions, Pew found almost identical shares of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (76%) and Democrats and Democratic leaners (74%) have little or no confidence in the ability of top networks prevent the misuse of their platforms in the upcoming election.

The failure of these companies to curb sophisticated misinformation campaigns in the runup to the 2016 primaries and presidential elections has been well documented.

Since then, Facebook, Twitter, and other networks have rolled out numerous changes to their services and policies, along with hiring hundreds of additional content moderators.     

Facebook, for example has required advertisers to seek authorization before running ads about social issues, elections or politics since 2018, while it has insisted that Pages disclose the source of funding behind political ads since 2017.

Just last week, meanwhile, it emerged that Twitter has been testing a feature that would conspicuously correct false and misleading information tweeted by politicians and other public figures.

Yet, consumer confidence in the power of these companies to prevent the misuse of their platforms is even lower than it was in the weeks before the 2018 midterm elections, Pew found.

In January when Pew conducted its polling, about a quarter of U.S. adults said they are confident that tech companies can prevent their platforms from being exploited for undue influence in the election, with only 5% saying they were “very confident.”

Having only known a world dominated by digital platforms, U.S. adults under 30 express slightly more confidence in technology companies to prevent the spread of political misinformation.

According to Pew, 31% of U.S. adults ages 18-to-29 said they are at least somewhat confident in these companies to prevent the misuse of their platforms to influence the election, while only 20% of those ages 65 and older said they was at least somewhat confident.

Some analysts have speculated that consumers’ lack of trust in social networks, the content they carry, and their inability to safeguard personal information could lead to their downfall.

Last year, a report from Forrester Research suggested that Facebook is facing an existential trust problem.
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