May 2, 2022 - Technology

College students don't want Elon Musk running Twitter

Elon Musk with his face in his hands

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Nearly six in 10 college students say they don't want Elon Musk to own and control Twitter. But compared to other billionaires and other social media platforms, Musk and Twitter get pretty favorable reviews, according to a new Generation Lab/Axios poll.

By the numbers: Asked which mega-billionaires they like, 35% selected Musk — well above all others, including Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Still, 53% picked "none of the above."

  • Compared to TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, students say they have more trust in Twitter (12%) to make wise decisions about important things — although the bigger picture is still grim. 77% trust none of the companies listed.
  • Twice as many say they have concerns about Facebook and TikTok than about Twitter.

The big picture: Students don't appear to share Elon Musk's view that social media culture inhibits free speech.

  • 76% say people can express themselves freely online.

Like the country writ large, opinions about Musk owning Twitter still divide steeply along partisan fault lines, although the male-female split is nearly as stark.

  • 69% of Republicans and 65% of men want Musk to do so, compared to 22% of Democrats and 29% of women.
  • 57% of Republicans and and 57% of men say they like Elon Musk. These were the only two sub-groups with positive favorability among any of the five billionaires we asked about.

The bottom line: Students view Twitter a bit less negatively than the other major social media platforms.

  • 12% said it has made their life worse, compared to 16% for Facebook, 16% for Instagram and 18% for TikTok.
  • Overall, social media is playing a more negative role in their lives. 48% have enjoyed it less over the past few years, while 21% have enjoyed it more.

Methodology: This study was conducted April 25-May 1 from a representative sample of 867 students nationwide from 2-year and 4-year schools. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percentage points. The Generation Lab conducts polling using a demographically representative sample frame of college students at community colleges, technical colleges, trade schools and public and private four-year institutions.

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