Americans don't trust Big Tech, don't see themselves as purveyors of online falsehoods, poll

A new poll puts into perspective Americans' views on the spread of misinformation online

Updated: October 8, 2021 - 9:51am

Americans' distrust of Big Tech and social media is at a record high, according to a new poll from The Pearson Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. However, very few Americans see themselves as part of the problem.

According to the results of the poll, conducted in mid-September, 95% of Americans identified misinformation as an issue they consider when attempting to access information online. 

Roughly half of those polled place a good deal of blame squarely on the shoulders of the U.S. government, while about 75% of respondents believe social media users and tech companies are to blame.

Still, just two in 10 Americans believe they have personally spread misinformation. That figure increases to six in 10 who say they are at least somewhat concerned that friends and family members of theirs have become part of the problem.

While 61% of Republicans believe the U.S. government bears significant responsibility for the spread of misinformation, just 38% of Democrats feel the same. Bipartisan agreement is more prominent on the question of big social media companies' – like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – role in the spread of misinformation. 

Bipartisan agreement could create a political issue for Big Tech companies that are realizing it is politically popular to criticize their practices. Despite heightened partisan divides, a bipartisan Senate panel on Tuesday agreed to slap Facebook with all sorts of new regulations following the blockbuster testimony of a company whistleblower who spoke with senators about the company's adverse impact on young users.