Big Tech is still struggling to earn the public’s trust

The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University recently released the findings from its fourth tech poll in two years. Taylor Barkley, technology and innovation director at the CGO, met with Meghan McCarty Carino of Marketplace Tech to discuss the data.

The CGO worked with YouGov to ask about issues such as regulating Big Tech companies, content moderation on social media sites, and varying trust levels of media platforms. Responses were varied and largely dependent on partisan identification (Republican, Democrat, etc) and level of political activity (ranging from most of the time to none of the time). Although the American public has a relatively high distrust of social media companies—Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter, most believe social media companies are justified in their content moderation decisions as well as decisions to remove users and elected officials.

On the other hand, big companies like Amazon and Google were labeled as more trustworthy. Barkley suggests that this may be because many Americans have had positive experiences with those companies and their products. It’s easier to trust an institution when the benefits and costs are clearly illustrated. “When I use Amazon, for instance, I’m there to shop, I’m there to find something that’s helpful. I’m trusting them with my credit card data,” Barkley said.

Overwhelmingly, the poll found that respondents support the moderation of content on social media sites, according to the rules (not content that poses a risk to public health and safety). Americans also strongly support freedom of speech. Political participation on social media sites (the “public square”) is surprisingly low, even though most responses determined social media as the primary stage for political discourse.

Overall, the CGO found that tech is not a priority for most Americans, most Americans think content moderation decisions are justified, and there is not a consensus to break up Big Tech.

To read more about the CGO’s tech poll and Taylor Barkley’s exploration of the data, click here.

CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.