An NBC News poll released Sunday shows two-thirds of Americans think social media is dividing the nation more than uniting it.
The survey, which had a sample size of 1,000 respondents, was conducted between April 17 and 20. Sixty-four percent of those polled said Big Tech divides the nation, while a mere 27 percent said it unites people. Three in four Republicans polled agreed with the dividing sentiment, along with 65 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats.
Regardless of age, Americans assumed a negative view of social media companies. Sixty-one percent of young adults and 71 percent of seniors said tech divides the United States. Seventy percent of whites and 56 percent of Latinos agreed with that sentiment, whereas black respondents were split, with 42 percent thinking Big Tech is divisive and 40 percent unifying.
“Social media companies profit off of division and discord,” Rachel Bovard, senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute, told The Federalist. “They make money by amplifying viral, divisive, and addictive content. Their business model is to drive Americans apart, and in many ways, they’re succeeding. Americans are picking up on this.”
Results indicate Americans have grown increasingly skeptical of the ability of Big Tech to play a positive role in society. A poll from March 2019 concluded that 57 percent of people viewed tech as divisive and 35 percent as unifying. The swing has gone seven points in the divisive direction, and 8 points worse on unification in just two years.
Considering quality of life among a sample size of 655 daily social media users, 49 percent of respondents in the April poll said they view social media as having improved their lives, while 37 percent said it has worsened it. The margin of error among the pool of daily users is +/- 3.8 percentage points, versus +/- 3.1 percentage points for the overall survey of 1,000 adults.
In the preface of his new book “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., slammed social media as “utterly convinced of their own righteousness and their right to govern America.”
“If you doubt this, look only at the furious assault on free speech by Big Tech and its fellow corporatists in the early days of 2021,” Hawley wrote, referencing the campaign by Big Tech to censor Americans. “Following the grisly riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Big Tech quickly moved to silence conservative voices. The major tech companies de-platformed a bevy of conservatives, including the president of the United States.”
While Democrats and Big Tech work to spread the idea that misinformation must be rooted out, with technology as the means to do this, the NBC poll indicates people are not pleased with the efforts of these platforms-turned-publishers.