There was a time when misinformation on the internet felt benign. Fast-forward to the ultra-divisive period we find ourselves as a country, and a growing number of Americans want to see the government crack down on misinformation.
Unlike the kind of misinformation that swirled on message boards during the internets early days, the kind that moves around social media sites like Facebook and Twitter carry a greater authority- mainly because it’s a leading means through which people get news and information.
A new research poll out this month by Pew found that 48% of adult Americans say the U.S. government should take steps to restrict false information online- even if it means limiting freely publishing or accessing content.
In 2018 that number was 10% lower. Nearly two-thirds, or 59% say it’s time for social media companies to take on misinformation.
The gap is widening politically on this issue – like seemingly all others. In 2018, 40% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans said the U.S. government should take steps to restrict false information. Three years later, the split was 65% and 28%.
“What we’re seeing is just kind of a reaction to what they are hearing from the politicians that they are voting for and from the media that they’re consuming,” said Andrew Selepak, a social media professor at the University of Florida.
While government action might sound like a good idea to some – that is met with heavy skepticism among a crowd that has challenged government objectivity throughout the pandemic.
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