A new poll found broad support among Floridians for limits on social media companies’ ability to ban content.
The Mason-Dixon poll found 60% of Florida voters support requiring companies to publish standards for banning posts and users, and 54% support stopping the process of censoring and de-platforming users.
It also showed 67% support requiring equal access for all established news organizations and candidates to reach users. That topic is especially sensitive after companies restricted New York Post reporting last year on Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son. Some candidates complained they were not given the same verification status as opponents.
The polling also showed 68% of voters favor giving users the ability to opt-out of algorithms completely.
Notably, there are distinct partisan differences in how voters feel about the actions of tech companies.
About 53% of voters say they feel they have less freedom on the internet than they enjoyed a few years ago. But looking at party breakdown, 74% of Republicans feel that way while just 34% of Democrats say the same.
There are also differing attitudes about various companies.
About 56% of voters think Amazon has too much power, including 65% of Democrats, 55% of Republicans, and 44% of independents, as an example. Meanwhile, more Republicans than Democrats felt Google had too much power, with 58% of voters statewide saying as much, including 66% of Republicans, 54% of independents, and 53% of Democrats.
Twitter drew particular ire among conservatives voters, with 83% of Republicans calling the platform too powerful compared to 55% of independents and 46% of Democrats. For Facebook, the breakdown was 74% of Republicans, 61% of Democrats, and 60% of independents.
Pollster Brad Coker said the poll surveyed 625 voters April 5-8, and the results have a margin of error of 4%.
The South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce sponsored the poll. On a press call releasing results, Chamber CEO Liliam Lopez said social media censorship hurts small businesses. “Small businesses should be able to say whatever they want to say,” Lopez said.
Sen. Ray Rodrigues, chair of the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, said legislation moving this year aims to protect consumers from company overreach.
When asked if such regulations run afoul of the social media companies’ own free speech rights, Rodrigues noted those corporations today enjoy federal protections not afforded to individuals, specifically referencing Section 230, part of the federal Communications Decency Act, that shields tech companies from being held to account for libel and slander. That’s on the presumption companies act as platforms and not publishers.
But as Facebook and Twitter in particular control content published to millions of users, Rodrigues said those corporations had shifted the balance.
“They are determining what will or will not be published on their platform,” he said. “They take on the role of a publisher but shirk the responsibility.”