Sep 25, 2020 - Technology

Exclusive: Majority polled back a social-media blackout for election

an illustration of social media apps being deleted
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Fifty-two percent of voters support shutting down social media platforms altogether for the week of the presidential election, according to a poll from GQR research shared exclusively with Axios.

The big picture: Tech companies have aggressively rolled out new guardrails around misinformation related to the election and taken down numerous foreign-led meddling campaigns this year, but critics continue to fear that social media is a vector for domestic and foreign deceit.

Context: In the run-up to the election, Twitter has banned political advertising altogether, Facebook is banning new political ads a week before election day and YouTube announced a crackdown on deceptive ads this summer.

Details: The survey, commissioned by Accountable Tech, questioned 1,000 registered voters in early September. Some notable results:

  • 52% support shutting down social media platforms for the week of the election (54% Democrats and 51% Republicans).
  • 79% say social media companies should "do more to protect democracy."
  • Facebook is the most used social platform (65%), but 52% hold unfavorable views of it, and it is the least trusted news source compared to other social media and traditional media.
  • 62% say they are not confident social media companies can prevent election-related misinformation, and 91% think social media companies should do more to prevent its spread.
  • 82% support placing warning labels on accounts spreading false information about voting and 85% support blocking posts calling for violence or spreading election misinformation altogether.

What they're saying: "There's a pretty staggering level of concern for how ill-prepared social media platforms are for this election. I mean, a majority of voters effectively said, 'Screw it, shut it all down.' That's not to say we should do that, but it sends a clear message to Silicon Valley that they need to step up," Jesse Lehrich, founder of Accountable Tech, told Axios.

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