Nearly a majority of Americans back Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) legislation to “stop big tech’s assault on free speech,” according to a poll released Thursday.
An Echelon Insights poll released Thursday found that 48 percent of registered voters back Sen. Josh Hawley’s Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, which would audit social media companies for bias, and if regulators found bias in either the big tech companies’ algorithm or content moderation process, those companies would lose their Section 230 immunity.
Hawley’s office said the legislation would “stop big tech’s assault on free speech.”
Many experts, such as former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wireless Bureau Chief Fred Campbell, believe that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act allows for giant social media companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter to censor without significant legal recourse.
The survey revealed that 20 percent of Americans strongly favor Hawley’s bill, 28 percent somewhat support the legislation, while 30 percent remain unsure about it, compared to 14 percent who somewhat oppose the Missouri conservative’s bill, and seven percent strongly oppose the legislation to crack down on Internet censorship.
Sen. Hawley’s legislation also garners significant support across the political spectrum.
Fifty-three percent of Republican voters back the legislation, 53 percent of independents support the bill, and 46 percent of Democrats support the legislation.
Fifty-seven percent of those who share political content on social media favor the legislation, 52 percent of voters older than 50 support Hawley’s legislation, 51 percent of white voters back the legislation as well, 45 percent of voters under 50 back the bill, and 42 percent of non-white voters back it.
Further, 59 percent of registered voters described the notion of social media companies’ potential political bias or suppressing ideas they do not agree with as a “problem.” Majorities of Republicans, independents, and Democrats described political bias and censorship on these problems as a concern.
In response to the survey, Sen. Hawley tweeted, “Americans are tired of Big Tech censorship. Time to listen to them, not the Big Tech-funded apologists,” referencing a recent investigation that found that many conservative organizations, such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the R Street Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), receive money from Facebook and Google and oppose many measures to stop big tech censorship:
Americans are tired of Big Tech censorship. Time to listen to them, not the Big Tech-funded apologists https://t.co/sbRJ1mMMnb
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 11, 2019
Echelon Insights’ poll arises as the White House will host a summit on social media censorship Thursday. In a tweet Thursday morning, President Trump attacked the “tremendous dishonesty, bias, and discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies.”
“We will not let them get away with it much longer,” the president added, suggesting he might take action against the big tech companies:
A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies. We will not let them get away with it much longer. The Fake News Media will also be there, but for a limited period..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2019