A majority of Republicans believe social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are biased against conservative voices, according to a Pew Research Center poll released on Thursday.
Sixty-four percent of Republicans and right-leaning people who were polled “think major technology companies as a whole support the views of liberals over conservatives.” More starkly, 85 percent believe it’s “likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints,” while 54 percent believe it’s “very likely.”
And perhaps most jarring, 72 percent of those polled — from both the right and left — believe social media companies “actively censor political views,” according to Pew.
The study, conducted between May and June, took a sample of 4,600 people. More than 2,500 of those polled identified as Democrat or left-leaning, while about 2,000 were Republican or right-leaning. It comes at a time when social platforms are often accused of arbitrarily cracking down on conservatives.
In one case, Diamond and Silk, a pair of Trump-supporting commentators, claimed Facebook curtailed the reach of their videos for several months — something Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled about when he testified before Congress in April. Sen. Ted Cruz also called out Zuckerberg for the social network’s “pervasive pattern of political bias.” Zuckerberg shot down the notion.
“Senator, let me say a few things about this. First, I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place,” said Zuckerberg. “And this is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do, and I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”
Twitter has also drawn the ire of GOP supporters. The platform was sued earlier this year by a conservative journalist who claimed he was kicked off Twitter for his political view. Right-wing Los Angeles street artist Sabo had his Twitter account banned in April, after skewering several big tech companies with his work. “I don’t think the tech companies are trying to shut the right down, I know they are,” Sabo told TheWrap at the time.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has recently extended an olive-branch to conservatives. The Washington Post reported earlier this week Dorsey had coordinated a dinner with high-profile conservatives — including Mercedes Schlapp, a communications advisor for President Trump, and TV host Greta Van Susteren — to build “trust” with the company’s critics.
The Pew polling showed 43 percent of respondents, from both sides of the aisle, believe major tech companies foster liberal views. Despite the belief social media plays political favorites, though, those polled still held a favorable view of social media, with 63 percent believing these companies have made a positive impact on society.