Americans Agree Social Media is Driving Disinformation and COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy, New Survey Finds

Ethical technology initiative Project Liberty released a new survey, conducted by Echelon Insights, that shows a majority of American voters believe today’s social media companies are spreading disinformation (81%), causing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy (54%), and creating more harm than good (61%). Further, a majority do not trust social media companies to protect their data privacy and do not believe companies protect the best interests of their users.

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The survey found strong bipartisan agreement that the government should do more to hold social media companies responsible for the harm they cause to society, yet just 38% believed government regulation would be sufficient. Instead, voters see innovation as a viable pathway, with 64% believing it is possible to build new technology and social media companies that do not harm society.

“Clearly, people recognize the lasting societal harm today’s social media platforms are causing, and they’re looking for a way out,” said civic entrepreneur and Project Liberty founder Frank McCourt. “The good news is that we can build technology that better serves society, an approach that most Americans believe is a more effective solution than solely relying on regulation or trusting social media companies to fix existing problems themselves. Project Liberty was born with that vision in mind, and we welcome anyone who shares our commitment to ethical technology to be part of it.”

Next week, McCourt is helping convene influential tech, impact, and cultural leaders at Unfinished Live, a two-day event at The Shed in New York focused on accelerating solutions for a more ethical and equitable internet. The event will feature more than 60 high-profile speakers including Gavin Wood, a co-founder of Ethereum; Perry Chen, founder of Kickstarter; Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel, journalists and authors of Out of Office; and McCourt and technologist Braxton Woodham in conversation with Axios reporter Sara Fischer. McCourt will discuss the implications of this polling and share the latest updates on Project Liberty, a visionary initiative aimed at transforming how the internet works and who benefits from the web economy.

Announced in June 2021 with a $100-million investment, Project Liberty aims to create a more equitable civic architecture for the digital world. It includes the creation of a groundbreaking open-source protocol that, by its very design, shifts the ownership and control of personal data from platforms to people. In addition, Project Liberty is establishing a new international institute focused on creating an ethical governance framework for the next generation of the internet.

To access the full Unfinished Live in-person experience, members of the public can purchase tickets online. Virtual programming is available for free.

Key Survey Findings:

  • 81% of American voters agree today’s social media companies help spread disinformation.
  • 61% of American voters agree today’s social media companies cause more harm to society than good.
  • 52% of American voters do not believe social media companies follow rules that protect the best interests of users.
  • Only 34% of American voters trust today’s social media companies to protect their data privacy.
  • 54% of American voters agree today’s social media companies are causing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
  • 74% of American voters agree government leaders should do more to hold social media companies responsible for the harm they cause to society.
  • Only 38% of American voters believe government regulation will be sufficient to stop the harm to society caused by today’s social media companies.
  • 64% of American voters agree it is possible to build new technology and social media companies that do not harm society.
  • 62% of American voters believe innovation can create technology and social media companies that cause less harm to society.
  • 55% of American voters believe they, as social media users, should be allowed to profit from their personal data.

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