About two-thirds of Americans (64%) say social media have a mostly negative effect on the way things are going in the country today, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted July 13-19, 2020. Just one-in-ten Americans say social media sites have a mostly positive effect on the way things are going, and one-quarter say these platforms have a neither positive nor negative effect.
Those who have a negative view of the impact of social media mention, in particular, misinformation and the hate and harassment they see on social media. They also have concerns about users believing everything they see or read – or not being sure about what to believe. Additionally, they bemoan social media’s role in fomenting partisanship and polarization, the creation of echo chambers, and the perception that these platforms oppose President Donald Trump and conservatives.
This is part of a series of posts on Americans’ experiences with and attitudes about the role of social media in politics today. Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how Americans think about the impact of social media on the way things are currently going in the country. To explore this, we surveyed 10,211 U.S. adults from July 13 to 19, 2020. Everyone who took part is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.
Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.
The public’s views on the positive and negative effect of social media vary widely by political affiliation and ideology. Across parties, larger shares describe social media’s impact as mostly negative rather than mostly positive, but this belief is particularly widespread among Republicans.
Roughly half of Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party (53%) say social media have a largely negative effect on the way things are going in the country today, compared with 78% of Republicans and leaners who say the same. Democrats are about three times as likely as Republicans to say these sites have a mostly positive impact (14% vs. 5%) and twice as likely to say social media have neither a positive nor negative effect (32% vs. 16%).
Among Democrats, there are no differences in these views along ideological lines. Republicans, however, are slightly more divided by ideology. Conservative Republicans are more likely than moderate to liberal Republicans to say social media have a mostly negative effect (83% vs. 70%). Conversely, moderate to liberal Republicans are more likely than their conservative counterparts to say social media have a mostly positive (8% vs. 4%) or neutral impact (21% vs. 13%).
Younger adults are more likely to say social media have a positive impact on the way things are going in the country and are less likely to believe social media sites have a negative impact compared with older Americans. For instance, 15% of those ages 18 to 29 say social media have a mostly positive effect on the way things are going in the country today, while just 8% of those over age 30 say the same. Americans 18 to 29 are also less likely than those 30 and older to say social media have a mostly negative impact (54% vs. 67%).
However, views among younger adults vary widely by partisanship. For example, 43% of Democrats ages 18 to 29 say social media have a mostly negative effect on the way things are going, compared with about three-quarters (76%) of Republicans in the same age group. In addition, these youngest Democrats are more likely than their Republican counterparts to say social media platforms have a mostly positive (20% vs. 6%) or neither a positive nor negative effect (35% vs. 18%) on the way things are going in the country today. This partisan division persists among those 30 and older, but most of the gaps are smaller than those seen within the younger cohort.
Views on the negative impact of social media vary only slightly between social media users (63%) and non-users (69%), with non-users being slightly more likely to say these sites have a negative impact. However, among social media users, those who say some or a lot of what they see on social media is related to politics are more likely than those who say a little or none of what they see on these sites is related to politics to think social media platforms have a mostly negative effect on the way things are going in the country today (65% vs. 50%).
Past Pew Research Center studies have drawn attention to the complicated relationships Americans have with social media. In 2019, a Center survey found that 72% of U.S. adults reported using at least one social media site. And while these platforms have been used for political and social activism and engagement, they also raise concerns among portions of the population. Some think political ads on these sites are unacceptable, and many object to the way social media platforms have been weaponized to spread made-up news and engender online harassment. At the same time, a share of users credit something they saw on social media with changing their views about a political or social issue. And growing shares of Americans who use these sites also report feeling worn out by political posts and discussions on social media.
Those who say social media have negative impact cite concerns about misinformation, hate, censorship; those who see positive impact cite being informed
When asked to elaborate on the main reason why they think social media have a mostly negative effect on the way things are going in this country today, roughly three-in-ten (28%) respondents who hold that view mention the spreading of misinformation and made-up news. Smaller shares reference examples of hate, harassment, conflict and extremism (16%) as a main reason, and 11% mention a perceived lack of critical thinking skills among many users – voicing concern about people who use these sites believing everything they see or read or being unsure about what to believe.
In written responses that mention misinformation or made-up news, a portion of adults often include references to the spread, speed and amount of false information available on these platforms. (Responses are lightly edited for spelling, style and readability.) For example:
“They allow for the rampant spread of misinformation.” –Man, 36
“False information is spread at lightning speed – and false information never seems to go away.” –Woman, 71
“Social media is rampant with misinformation both about the coronavirus and political and social issues, and the social media organizations do not do enough to combat this.” –Woman, 26
“Too much misinformation and lies are promoted from unsubstantiated sources that lead people to disregard vetted and expert information.” –Woman, 64
People’s responses that centered around hate, harassment, conflict or extremism in some way often mention concerns that social media contributes to incivility online tied to anonymity, the spreading of hate-filled ideas or conspiracies, or the incitement of violence.
“People say incendiary, stupid and thoughtless things online with the perception of anonymity that they would never say to someone else in person.” –Man, 53
“Promotes hate and extreme views and in some cases violence.” –Man, 69
“People don’t respect others’ opinions. They take it personally and try to fight with the other group. You can’t share your own thoughts on controversial topics without fearing someone will try to hurt you or your family.” –Woman, 65
“Social media is where people go to say some of the most hateful things they can imagine.” –Man, 46
About one-in-ten responses talk about how people on social media can be easily confused and believe everything they see or read or are not sure about what to believe.
“People believe everything they see and don’t verify its accuracy.” –Man, 75
“Many people can’t distinguish between real and fake news and information and share it without doing proper research …” –Man, 32
“You don’t know what’s fake or real.” –Man, 49
“It is hard to discern truth.” –Woman, 80
“People cannot distinguish fact from opinion, nor can they critically evaluate sources. They tend to believe everything they read, and when they see contradictory information (particularly propaganda), they shut down and don’t appear to trust any information.” –Man, 42
Smaller shares complain that the platforms censor content or allow material that is biased (9%), too negative (7%) or too steeped in partisanship and division (6%).
“Social media is censoring views that are different than theirs. There is no longer freedom of speech.” –Woman, 42
“It creates more divide between people with different viewpoints.” –Man, 37
“Focus is on negativity and encouraging angry behavior rather than doing something to help people and make the world better.” –Woman, 66
Far fewer Americans – 10% – say they believe social media has a mostly positive effect on the way things are going in the country today. When those who hold these positive views were asked about the main reason why they thought this, one-quarter say these sites help people stay informed and aware (25%) and about one-in-ten say they allow for communication, connection and community-building (12%).
“We are now aware of what’s happening around the world due to the social media outlet.” –Woman, 28
“It brings awareness to important issues that affect all Americans.” –Man, 60
“It brings people together; folks can see that there are others who share the same/similar experience, which is really important, especially when so many of us are isolated.” –Woman, 36
“Helps people stay connected and share experiences. I also get advice and recommendations via social media.” –Man, 32
“It keeps people connected who might feel lonely and alone if there did not have social media …” – Man, 65
Smaller shares tout social media as a place where marginalized people and groups have a voice (8%) and as a venue for activism and social movements (7%).
“Spreading activism and info and inspiring participation in Black Lives Matter.” –Woman, 31
“It gives average people an opportunity to voice and share their opinions.” –Man, 67
“Visibility – it has democratized access and provided platforms for voices who have been and continue to be oppressed.” –Woman, 27
Note: This is part of a series of blog posts leading up to the 2020 presidential election that explores the role of social media in politics today. Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.
Other posts in this series:
Media Beat: November 23, 2020 – FYI Music News
You gotta laugh to keep from cryin’
Marketers spend half a trillion dollars a year on advertising. You’d think they’d take the time to understand what the hell they’re doing. There is incontrovertible evidence that they are alarmingly out of touch with the people they are trying to influence.
This week Ipsos Canada released a study on behalf of ThinkTV comparing the beliefs of 300 marketing “professionals” to the self-reported activities of consumers. The results are striking, if not shocking. Using the data from the Ipsos study, I’ve made a little table.
They think they “understand the consumer.” They don’t understand shit.
While 58% of marketers and advertisers have “smart speakers” in their homes, 19% of real people do. While about 45% of adults in the US are over 50, in ad agencies about 6% of employees are. According to the coo of Ipsos, “Some of these differences really are quite gigantic.” – Bob Hoffman, The Ad Contrarian
Rogers Sports & Media has made staff cuts at its radio and television properties, that include the cancellation of Breakfast Television in Calgary and Vancouver, as well as the JACK 96.9 (CJAX-FM) Vancouver morning show, as reported by Broadcast Dialogue.
“We are modernizing our business to position us for growth as we face the continued effects of a seismic shift in the media industry from traditional to digital and the challenges of the global pandemic,” Andrea Goldstein, Senior Director of Communications, told Broadcast Dialogue in an email. “Today’s changes allow us to prioritize our focus in areas where we have the assets and capabilities to deliver best-in-class multiplatform experiences.”
Ultimately, family legacy proved more important for Cogeco, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst John Butler. “If your whole life is wrapped up into a company that you built over the years, and it’s providing more than suitable compensation, why sell?”
For industry watchers, it’s now a waiting game to see if Rogers sells all or part of its Cogeco investment. “We’ll see if we hear about any next steps by Rogers before or with its 4Q reporting in January,” National Bank of Canada analyst Adam Shine said in an email. – Ilya Banares, Bloomberg News
Established producers would much rather the public agency operate like a “cultural bank” for proven successes, with an annual withdrawal limit of $4 million per company. The Fast Track producers believe Telefilm’s role should be restricted to “the administration of funds” while they, not the bureaucrats, decide what gets made.
The problem, critics say, is that the industry’s leaders in Canada are mostly white men who history shows are not predisposed to telling stories that speak to Canada’s diverse audiences or work with BIPOC filmmakers. Hence, why Telefilm is shaking things up. – Radheyan Simonpillai, Now
Castlepoint Numa Inc. says it has sold its minority interest in Pinewood Toronto Studios to majority shareholder Bell Media. Castlepoint invested in Pinewood Toronto in 2009 in the wake of the financial crisis.
Bell Media exercised its right to buy the shares through a right of first offer.
Separately, Bell Media and Grandé Studios have announced a new partnership, Bell Media has acquired a minority investment in the Montréal-based company, which provides production facilities, camera and lighting equipment rentals in Montréal and Toronto, and technical services to the local and international TV and film production industry. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The business world has its share of mavericks and contrarians. Then there is Doug Putman. People scoffed when the 36-year-old Hamilton-area entrepreneur bought bankrupt music retailers Sunrise Records, U.K.’s HMV and For Your Entertainment in the U.S., but he has turned them into profitable, growing chains. Now he’s acquired most of the outlets of insolvent DavidsTea and is reinventing them, turning them into … tea shops. Named T. Kettle, the first locations opened in early November. When he’s not busy turning around failing international chains, he works as president of his family’s business, Everest Toys.
You’ve opened a retail chain in the middle of a pandemic. What were you thinking?
I believe timing is everything. You get presented opportunities but nothing is ever perfect. If we weren’t in the situation we’re in, another retailer wouldn’t be pulling out of 150 stores. People say, “Oh, they couldn’t make it, but you can?” But just because one restaurant fails doesn’t mean you shouldn’t open a restaurant. The opportunity is there because someone has left the market and landlords and suppliers are eager to partner. – Joanna Pachner, The Star
As soon as he becomes a private citizen, Trump will be stripped of the legal armour that has protected him from pending cases both civil and criminal.
Here are some of the most perilous cases that await President Trump when he’s no longer president — and here’s how he could yet use the powers of the nation’s highest office to escape punishment… – Tom Winter, NBC News
The easiest option for Mr Trump might be no Trump TV at all. Instead of starting his own venture, Mr Trump could instead host shows on Fox or other existing conservative media outlets. That could be lucrative for the former president and give him a large, influential platform. “He could easily make $40m a year,” said one former senior Fox executive. – Anna Nicolaou & James Fontanella-Khan in New York and Alex Barker in London, Financial Times
Viewers asked the Federal Communications Commission to revoke licenses from CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC — except the FCC doesn’t issue licenses to networks. – WFFA TV
BuzzFeed is buying HuffPost, the digital media company created by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer and others in 2005.
Verizon Media, HuffPost’s current parent company, also announced an investment in BuzzFeed. It will have a minority stake in the company. – Sarah Guaglione, Media Post
William (Bill) John Morgan arrived from Australia and became a columnist and then editor of the Brandon Sun Newspaper. He moved on to join the CBC. From 1976 to 1980, he was TV Network Program Director, responsible for the pubcaster’s television network schedule, and ultimately for direct creative supervision of the “entertainment” side of CBC Television. In 1980, Bill was appointed Head of Television Current Affairs, where, as well as being the manager responsible for the successful development of The Journal, he was in overall charge of program series such as The 5th Estate, Marketplace, Man Alive, and Emmy and Academy award-winning documentaries like Fighting Back and Just Another Missing Kid. He was also a key planner for the network’s Newsworld (now CBC News Network).
Fuse expands integrated media operations with senior hire – Media In Canada
Fuse expands integrated media operations with senior hire
Luke Moore brings media and business development experience to the Toronto-based full-service creative agency.
Luke Moore brings media and business development experience to the Toronto-based full-service creative agency.
Israeli Prime Minister Secretly Flew To Saudi Arabia, Israeli Media Reports – NPR
Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly flew to Saudi Arabia on Sunday with his Mossad spy chief Yossi Cohen to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, multiple Israeli media outlets reported. Saudi Arabia’s government has denied the reports.
It is the first such meeting between Israeli and Saudi leaders to be reported widely in Israeli media, and could be a signal that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Trump Administration are coordinating their stance on Iran before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has denied that the reported meeting with Netanyahu took place, saying “the only officials present were American and Saudi.”
Biden has said he’d consider reviving the Iran nuclear deal, which President Trump left at Israel’s urging. Israel and Saudi Arabia, which share covert ties, both see Iran as an adversary.
Netanyahu’s office declined comment on the reported trip, but the prime minister may have dropped hints about it in a speech he delivered Sunday.
“We must not return to the old nuclear agreement. We must continue the uncompromising policy to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon,” Netanyahu said. “Thanks to our firm stance against a nuclear Iran – and thanks to our opposition to a nuclear deal with Iran – many Arab countries fundamentally changed their approach to Israel.”
Hours after Netanyahu delivered the speech, an online flight tracker recorded a private plane, one reportedly used by Netanyahu before, flying Sunday evening from Tel Aviv to Neom in Saudi Arabia and returning about five hours later.
Israeli media cited anonymous Israeli officials confirming the visit. Israeli journalists noted that Israel’s military censor, which often bans publication of news sensitive to Israel’s national security, approved the reports for publication.
It is unclear if Israeli and Saudi officials also discussed opening formal diplomatic relations in the reported meeting, following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia’s neighbors, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Pompeo, who has been touring Israel and Gulf Arab states touting the Trump administration’s pressure campaign on Iran, announced his meeting Sunday with bin Salman in Saudi Arabia’s new high-tech city Neom, but did not mention if Netanyahu was present. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem declined comment.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a political rival of Netanyahu, criticized that the alleged visit was leaked to Israeli media, though it was unclear if he was confirming the reports.
“The leak of the covert flight of the prime minister is an irresponsible step. I don’t act that way. I never acted that way and I will never act that way and I think in that context the citizens of Israel need to be concerned,” Gantz said in a meeting with his political party, according to a statement from his party’s office.
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