The UK has less trust in social media companies than any other nation, and favours strong regulatory mechanisms, according to a new poll by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism project.
The survey, which was allegedly taken across 23 different countries and polled more than 25,000 people, found that Brits have the highest levels of distrust in Facebook and Twitter, with 83% of respondents allegedly saying that they had "little or no trust" in those platforms. Just 12% of Brits said that they trusted the information, such as news, that they receive through social media.
Social distrust?— Rachel Mcelroy (@RachelMcelroySR) 3 May 2019
Britons trust social media platforms less than any other major nation and favour stronger regulation of Silicon Valley’s technology companies, according to a survey of 23 countries.https://t.co/2lzC0DiAs1#Facebook #Dataprivacy pic.twitter.com/rI8S2Pq4K0
According to The Guardian, which says it was involved in the designing of the survey, other Western countries followed closely behind the UK in the lack of trust they are willing to invest in social media. Overall, 23% of Americans reportedly said that they had trust in the veracity of information received through social media. 20% of Germans and 28% of Canadians felt the same.
Interestingly, trust rates polled much higher in so-called ‘middle income' countries: 52% of Indians, Saudis and Thais said they trust social media.
The news, which will no doubt be difficult reading for tech chiefs like Mark Zuckberberg, comes at a time when the UK government has launched an unprecedented crackdown on what it sees as an unruly and unregulated digital wild west. In February, London released a report into online "disinformation" and concluded that Facebook and other social media platforms had become akin to "digital gangsters" in desperate need of regulation.
If I ran a social media company, and activists asked me to suppress legal posts, I’d say:— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) 1 May 2019
“I trust my customers to judge for themselves — if you disagree with people, feel free to use my platform to post counter-arguments.
“Because that’s how a civilized society works.”
Since then, the government has initiated the process of setting up an independent watchdog that has been given a mandate to mete out fines and hold the bosses of companies that host user-generated content personally accountable for "harmful content" published on their platforms. This measure is said to mark the beginning of more regulatory actions to come.
So how do Brits feel about their government's crusade against social media? According to the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism poll, over 60% of them agree that regulation is necessary, in contrast to just 6% who think there is already too much government control. The polling says that in the US, 47% believe that the industry needs greater oversight, which places it lower than France, where 56% of people said they supported more regulation, and in Spain (61%), Turkey (65%) and Germany (46%).
Containing the social media beast is thought to likely become a hot-button political issue in the years to come, particularly in Western countries. A number of hopeful 2020 US presidential hopefuls, such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, have called for the break up of what she has described as "big tech."
"Today's big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation," Senator Warren wrote in a recent piece published on Medium.