CGO Tech Poll

Executive Summary

In the latest installment of our ongoing poll (administered by YouGov), we continue to unpack how Americans view their relationship with today’s major tech platforms.

This survey captures how we view tech, but also answers important questions ranging from how we should regulate companies, to how our views about technology differ based on gender, political ideology, and education.

Complete polling data results (PDF)


Findings


Distrust of tech companies

  • Tiktok and Facebook are the most distrusted companies
  • Men, conservatives, and more educated Americans show greater distrust
  • Distrust of Amazon and Twitter inching up, Zoom moving down

Respondents were asked how much they trust various tech companies to collect and use their data. The most distrusted tech companies are TikTok (59%), Facebook (58%), and Twitter (55%). Men are more distrustful across the board.

The higher a respondent’s educational attainment, the more they distrust tech companies. Americans with post-graduate degrees are the most distrustful of Facebook (73%) compared to high school graduates (49%).

Political ideology also predicts trust. Conservatives distrust Facebook more than liberals (69% and 55%, respectively.) The same goes for other tech companies such as Amazon (40% vs. 34%) and Google (53% vs. 28%).

Over the past three CGO surveys, distrust of Twitter and Amazon has moved up slightly (50% to 55%, and 28% to 34% respectively) while Zoom was the only company to show a significant improvement in its reputation.

Distrust of government

Following the 2020 election, Republican distrust of the federal government properly using personal data has spiked, while Democrat distrust dropped.

Regulation of tech companies

  • Around half of Americans would like to see the largest tech firms broken up
  • Majorities support free speech in principle, while also supporting increased restrictions on social media content. Older Americans are more likely than younger ones to support such regulations.
  • Both liberals and conservatives want to crack down on social media companies but are not united as to how do so

Around half of Americans want to break up Facebook (53%), Amazon (48%) and Google (44%), but many others are unsure.

Most Americans support free speech in principle (81%). At the same time, majorities support requiring that social media be held responsible for false posts (62%) or offensive content (53%).

The conventional wisdom is that younger Americans are more supportive of restrictions on speech. However, while they are less supportive of free speech in principle, they are actually less likely to support actual restrictions than older Americans.

A majority of conservatives and liberals support breaking up big tech companies (60% and 54%, respectively). However, conservatives are more divided as to whether greater government regulation is the right approach (41% agree vs. 44% disagree).

The news media

When asked whether “most news coverage is good for American society”, Americans are split nearly evenly (41% agree, while 43% disagree). However, a large majority (71%) support fining media outlets for “reporting biased or inaccurate information.”

Social media and politics

Only a minority of Americans use social media primarily to share their political beliefs (23%), and many are uncomfortable with doing so (49%). However, a majority recognize social media’s role as a platform for “important public policy conversations (55%).

Survey methodology

Results for this CGO/YouGov Tech Poll poll are based on web-based panel participants August 26-31, 2021. The data is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population. Some numbers provided above have been rounded for clarity. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3.43 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Contact

If you’d like to contact us about the poll, or any of our other research, please reach out to [email protected]. Or if this is a media inquiry, please feel free to reach out to [email protected].

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.

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