Pew: 74% of Americans Worried Big Tech Will Be Misused in 2020 Election

March 2nd, 2020 5:59 PM

Google critic Dr. Robert Epstein warned of Big Tech’s potential for abuse in elections -- and apparently Americans are beginning to heed his concerns.

Both Republicans and Democrats appear to agree that Big Tech will be unable to prevent their platforms from being misused during the 2020 election.

“[N]early three-quarters of Americans (74%) express little or no confidence” that Big Tech companies will be able to “prevent the misuse of their platforms” during the 2020 election, Pew Research Center summarized in a FactTank article on Feb. 24 on a Jan. 2020 poll.

At the same time, 78 percent of those surveyed say these companies have a responsibility to prevent misuse of this kind.

This lack of confidence represents a noticeable plummet since even the 2018 midterms, when a comparatively smaller 66 percent majority expressed the same lack of confidence in Big Tech.

In 2018, the numbers indicate that while 72 percent of Republicans said Big Tech would mishandle their platforms during the 2020 election, only 62 percent of Democrats agreed. Now both sides are significantly closer, with 76 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Democrats both lacking confidence in Big Tech with regard to the 2020 presidential election.

“Republicans were more likely than Democrats to feel social media platforms favor the views of liberals over conservatives,” according to a Pew survey in 2018. Paradoxically, Democrats appear to be the ones more in favor of regulating these platforms, with over half (57%) of Democrats and Democratic leaners saying they think major tech companies should be regulated more heavily than they are now.

Pew’s research indicates that Democrats were “more likely than Republicans to say that tech firms should be regulated more than they are now.” This includes the fact that “Democrats were more likely to believe tech companies should take steps to restrict false information online even if it limited freedom of information.”

The January survey also had some revealing observations according to age demographics.

The data indicate that adults under the age of 30 are more confident in tech companies than their elders.“31% of those ages 18 to 29” express being at least somewhat confident in the competency of Big Tech companies, while a smaller “20% of those ages 65 and older are at least somewhat confident.”

Dr. Epstein, a senior researcher at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and former Editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, had suggested Americans need to be wary of Big Tech. A prominent liberal himself,Epstein wrote an op-ed headlined “Why Republicans Can’t Win in 2020” warning that Big Tech companies could rig the 2020 election and “make the Russians look like rank amateurs.”