Last week, the New York Times published an incendiary column by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. The former tech industry executive said the firm he helped build needed to be broken up. According to a new poll, 40 percent of Americans agree the social network needs to face antitrust action.
Business Insider recently revealed it contracted SurveyMonkey to find out how U.S. residents felt about its most popular social media platform. The firm contacted 1,072 Americans and found 40 percent of them now support antitrust action against Facebook. The site argues Hughes’ essay effectively changed the public’s view of the controversial tech company.
Poll Results Breakdown
The SurveyMonkey poll asked Americans if they supported a government investigation into Facebook’s perceived antitrust violations. About 17 percent of respondents strongly supported a government inquest into the social media service’s activities. Another 12 percent said they thought it was a good idea, and 11 percent of survey takers expressed modest support for an inquiry.
Conversely, the analytics company found only 15 percent of U.S. residents opposed a government prosecution of Facebook. Furthermore, only five percent of respondents stated they believed the service’s practices didn’t merit federal intervention. SurveyMonkey also reported 28 percent of Americans are ambivalent about the world’s largest social network getting charged.
The survey uncovered several interesting demographic divisions concerning a possible Facebook antitrust crackdown. For instance, the poll indicated more men than women want an anti-competition investigation. The study further revealed younger people have mixed feelings about the service, but older Americans enthusiastically support a monopoly investigation.
Plus, while Democrats and Republicans seem divided about many issues today, both groups want federal antitrust action against Facebook.
Facebook Pushes Back
In addition to publishing the results of the poll, Business Insider asked Facebook to respond to its findings. A spokesperson for the corporation didn’t make an official comment but did reference other recent polls that reflected slightly better results.
In March 2019, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found 68 percent of respondents didn’t support a federal antitrust investigation. Moreover, only 47 percent of Americans favored a government guided corporate dismantling. However, that survey didn’t single out Facebook with its questions; it grouped the firm with Apple, Amazon, and Google.
Facebook also highlighted results from a March 2019 CNN poll gauging America’s view on Big Tech. In it, 42 percent of respondents held the minority opinion that Silicon Valley needs more regulation. The survey additionally stated 64 percent of that group opposed dismantling the tech sector’s biggest companies.
Like the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, the CNN inquiry did not ask questions specifically about Facebook.
Admittedly, Business Insider’s Facebook survey feels less than definitive because it deals with such a small sample size. And its contention that Hughes’ piece swayed public opinion isn’t conclusive. But it seems worth noting the social media giant didn’t offer up much of a defense against its results.
Overall, the corporation must understand its long string of public scandals has severely damaged its reputation. Indeed, if the company’s best argument against a populist backlash is that it isn’t universally popular, that is an incredibly feeble defense.
With high-profile Democratic and Republican leaders aggressively criticizing the platform, Facebook needs to come up with better talking points if it wants to get through the next election cycle intact.