Around the World, Most Want Platforms To Block Shady Political Ads

Around the world, a clear majority of people (58%) believe that social networks have a responsibility to block misleading political ads.

That’s according to a large study commissioned by The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which found that only 26% think platforms should keep their hands off such ads.

On behalf of the Institute, polling company YouGov surveyed more than 80,000 consumers of digital content in 40 countries at the beginning of the year.

Stateside, opinions differed significantly depending on respondents’ political ideology.

Among people who identified as “left” of the political center, 67% said platforms should be blocking misleading political ads, while 20% said they should not.

Meanwhile, among those on the “right,” 34% said platforms had a responsibility to block such ads, while 49% said platforms should just mind their own business.

The findings might concern Facebook, which reasserted its refusal to police political ads at the beginning of the year, and has faced stiff criticism as a result. The tech titan did so despite calls from some members of Congress to take a harder line on shady political ads, along with Twitter’s decision to ban all political ads from its platform last year.



More recently, former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden launched a “MoveFastFixIt” petition and social media campaign demanding that Facebook reconsider its position on political ads.

“We’ve got to fix Facebook to protect our democracy and ensure fair elections,” Biden tweeted last week.

In a statement defending its position, Facebook cited the executive order recently issued by President Trump, which directed federal agencies to prevent social media sites from fact-checking political statements and similar activities.

In most countries in which YouGov conducted its research, Facebook was seen by respondents as the main channel for spreading false information.

Across all 40 countries included in the survey, 29% of respondents said they were most concerned about Facebook, while 6% said the same about YouTube, and 5% said the same about Twitter.

(See DND's coverage of Facebook's new announcement that it will now let users out of seeing political ads.)

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