Majority of Americans Against Government Restricting Fake News

April 20th, 2018 4:20 PM

A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows a majority of Americans do not believe the government should rein in the spread of fake news.

The Pew poll, which surveyed 4,734 American adults between Feb. 26-March 11, found that 58 percent of respondents believe that the freedom to preach information should be protected, without government interference, “even if it means false info can be published.” Only 39 percent of all respondents said they believe the U.S. government should “take steps to restrict false information online, even if it limits freedom of info.”

Bar chart showing that most Americans resist U.S. government taking steps against misinformation online that could limit freedoms, but more are open to tech companies taking action

When it comes to government interference, both Democrats and Republicans were on the same page: 60 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats both said the spread of information should be protected, even if it means the freedom allows for the spread misleading information.

However, asked if private tech companies should be allowed to police their respective sites for misinformation, 56 percent of respondents agreed, compared to 42 percent of respondents who said the free flow of information should still take precedence.

Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say tech companies should attempt to restrict the spread of fake news. The poll found 60 percent of Democrats (and those who lean Democrat) were open to tech companies cracking down on fake news, compared to just 48 percent of Republicans. The majority of Republicans (50 percent) opposed even the tech companies restricting speech.

There were also large generational divides on the topic of cracking down on fake news. Older respondents were more likely than younger respondents to support both the government and tech companies cracking down on fake news:

Chart showing that older Americans are more likely than younger to favor restricting false information online