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Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

A majority of Americans think social media "has played a role in radicalizing people," according to a new poll from Accountable Tech and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner shared exclusively with Axios.

The big picture: As misinformation proliferates online about COVID-19, vaccines and politics, social platforms are walking a tightrope between protecting freedom of speech and tamping down the flow of misleading content.

  • Online platforms have taken major steps to reduce the amount of misinformation and extremist content online, especially since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but it's a never-ending challenge.

By the numbers: In an online poll of 1000 registered voters taken Jan. 28-31, 44% of respondents strongly agreed and 41% somewhat agreed with the statement that social media has played a role in radicalizing people.

  • 71% of respondents said the federal government should impose stronger regulation on social media platforms, and 74% said misinformation on social media is an extremely or very serious problem.
  • On the suspension of former president Donald Trump from Twitter, Facebook and other platforms, 47% of respondents said it came too late, 16% said it came at the right time, and 37% opposed the suspensions altogether.
  • 76% said social media platforms are at least somewhat responsible for the Capitol riot, and 7 in 10 said the riot was the result of years of unchecked extreme behavior online.
  • One in three people polled have seen posts online supportive of the Capitol attackers, 39% polled have seen posts promoting political violence and 37% polled have seen posts urging people not to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The poll has a 3.1% margin of error.

Between the lines: Social media platforms keep announcing new steps to limit the misinformation that drives extremism. But experts say that reversing radicalization will require an all-out national effort — a "Marshall plan against domestic extremism."

Go deeper

Facebook says it will crack down on COVID vaccine misinformation

Photo illustration: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook says it will take tougher action during the pandemic against claims that vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccination, are not effective or safe.

Why it matters: It's a partial reversal from Facebook's previous position on vaccine misinformation. In September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company wouldn't target anti-vaccination posts the same way it has aggressively cracked down on COVID misinformation.

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says an unidentified group of extremists discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

29 mins ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.