(CN) – An overwhelming majority of Americans believe social media companies are actively censoring political viewpoints they disagree with, the Pew Research Center reported Thursday.
Seventy-two percent of the American public, including 85 percent of Republicans, think that social media sites are censoring political opinions the companies find “objectionable,” according to a Pew poll conducted earlier this month.
The poll did not ask respondents about specific companies.
Pew released the results of the survey a day after the Washington Post reported that leaders of both Twitter and Facebook have been secretly meeting with aides to President Donald Trump and other prominent conservatives to address complaints of bias in an effort to build trust among conservatives.
In a letter to his staff on June 7, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly said that “it’s no secret that we are largely left leaning, and we all have biases.” However, he told conservative attendees at a private dinner last week that, regardless of his own liberal political views, his company was not unfairly targeting right-leaning users, according to the Post.
Several conservative leaders, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have accused social media platforms of stifling conservative voices. McCarthy has even started a petition to “fight back against this liberal bias.”
“The Silicon Valley social media elite are labeling conservative ideas and voices as ‘offensive content’ and censoring them online,” McCarty wrote on his campaign website. “It’s time to stand up and let online platforms such as Google and Facebook know that we will not be silenced so easily.”
Pew’s new survey of more than 4500 American adults found that the public also suspects that technology companies, in general, favor the viewpoints of certain groups over others.
Fewer than half of Americans — 43 percent — say these companies support different groups’ views equally.
Sixty-four percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think that major technology companies support liberal views over conservative views. However, only 28 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners say the same.
A little more than half of Americans (51 percent) think that major technology companies should be more regulated than they are now.
Despite the public’s belief that social media sites and technology companies are likely biased, the majority of Americans also believe that technological products and services have been “more good than bad for them personally.”
Seventy-four percent of Americans say major technology companies have had a “good” impact on their own lives.
A smaller share of Americans, 63 percent, believe that technology companies have had a positive effect on society as a whole.