Americans give social media a clear thumbs-down

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By Mark Murray

WASHINGTON – The American public has negative opinions of social network giants such as Facebook and Twitter, with a considerable majority saying that these sites do more to divide the country than unite and spread falsehoods instead of news, according to the results of the last National report of NBC News / Wall Street Journal survey.

What's more, six out of 10 Americans say they do not trust Facebook to protect their personal information, according to the survey.

But the public also believes that technology in general has more benefits than disadvantages in the economy, and respondents are divided on whether the federal government should split the largest technology companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook.

"Social media, and Facebook, in particular, have some serious problems with this survey," said Micah Roberts, a pollster for the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, which conducted this survey with the Democratic firm Hart Research Associates.

"If the United States gave social media a Yelp review, most would give it zero stars," Roberts added.

According to the survey, 57 percent of Americans say they agree with the statement that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter do more to divide the country, while 35 percent think they do more to unite the nation. nation.

Fifty-five percent believe that social networks do more to spread lies and falsehoods, compared to 31 percent who say they do more to spread news and information.

Sixty-one percent think that social networks do more to spread unfair attacks and rumors against public figures and corporations, compared to 32 percent who say they do more to hold those public figures and corporations accountable.

And a mbadive 82 percent say that social networking sites do more to waste people's time, compared to 15 percent who say they do more to make good use of Americans' time.

But those numbers also come as almost seven out of 10 Americans, 69 percent, say they use social media at least once a day.

Negative attitudes about social networks are shared by democrats, republicans, men, women, urban and rural residents.

However, one variable is age: younger respondents are less likely to believe that social networks divide the country and propagate unfair attacks and rumors.

Sixty percent do not trust Facebook to protect personal information

The NBC / WSJ poll also finds that Americans have gone down on Facebook, and 60 percent say they do not trust the company to protect personal information.

Only six percent say they trust "a lot" or "a lot".

In contrast, the percentage of Americans who do not trust companies or institutions with their personal information is lower for Amazon (28 percent), Google (37 percent) and the federal government (35 percent).

And with a margin of 74% to 23%, respondents say that social media companies that collect users' personal data to allow advertisers to target them is not acceptable compensation for free or lower-cost services.

In general, 36 percent of adults see Facebook positively, while 33 percent see it negatively. And the Twitter rating is 24 percent positive, 27 percent negative.

"If these were political candidates, it would be one thing," said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates. "But for companies, one would think that these ratings would be [more] on the positive side. "

Down on social networks, but optimistic about technology

Despite these sour attitudes about social networks, the NBC / WSJ survey shows that Americans are optimistic about technology in general.

59 percent of respondents agree with the claim that technology has more benefits than disadvantages, since it means that products and services can be cheaper and more efficient.

That compares with the 36 percent who believe that technology has more drawbacks than benefits, because it means that workers are being replaced by robots and computers.

And 60 percent of Americans say they feel more optimistic than worried when they think about the changes that technology could bring in the next five years.

When asked if the federal government should split the largest technology companies, such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, into smaller competing companies, 47 percent say they agree and 50 percent do not. agreement.

In addition to the 69 percent of Americans who say they use social media at least once a day, the NBC / WSJ survey finds that 63 percent say they pay most of their bills online; 48 percent say they have tried to limit the use of their smartphone; 42 percent say they have made an effort to abandon or limit social networks; The 26 percent who have blocked or have not been friends with someone on Facebook or social networks because of their political opinions; and 14 percent say they play an online multiplayer game like Fortnite.

And he was asked how old is a child under 18 years of age to have his own smartphone, 42% respond that he is 15 years old or older; 40 percent say that from 12 to 14 years old; and 11 percent say they are 11 years old or younger.

The NBC / WSJ survey was conducted on March 23-27, 1,000 adults, almost half reached by cell phone, and has a margin of general error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.

Image: Image:Mark Murray

Mark Murray is the political editor of NBC News.

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