Americans Favor More Regulation of Social Media, Are Split on Its Impact on Humanity

April 20, 2023

Social media is one of the industries that is most in need of more regulation, according to survey results from YouGov. Indeed, 57% of adults surveyed in the US feel that the social media industry should be much more (30%) or somewhat more (27%) regulated, while just 15% think that it should be less regulated.

The 57% favoring increased regulation for social media makes it the industry with the third-highest consensus out of 44 measured, behind only the Pharmaceutical industry (64%) and Artificial Intelligence (58%). However in terms of preference for “much more” regulation, Social Media (30%) is a bit further down the list, ranking a joint 6th behind Firearms (39%), Pornography (38%), Pharmaceuticals (36%), AI (31%) and Oil and Gas (31%).

About half (49%) feel that the Technology industry should be either much or somewhat more regulated, and roughly the same share (50%) prefer more regulation of Internet Services.

Turning to media, roughly half favor increased regulation of the News Media (50%) and Telecommunications (47%) industries. Despite poor perceptions of advertising practitioners’ honesty and ethics, fewer (42%) desire more oversight of the Advertising industry, which ranked at the mid-point of industries in this regard.

Meanwhile, although Americans’ opinions are split about whether the rise of fast fashion is a good thing or not, there doesn’t appear to be much desire for increased regulation of Fashion (26%) or Textiles (25%), which ranked last on the list of industries on this measure.

Returning to the topic of social media, separate survey results from YouGov reveal mixed feelings about social’s impact on humanity. While Americans are overwhelmingly more likely to believe that the invention of the internet was a good (64%) rather than bad (10%) thing for humanity – and feel similarly about the smartphone (62% and 13%, respectively) – just 38% think that the invention of social media was overall a good thing, with 29% instead believing it has been an overall negative for humanity. There’s a wide age gap in this attitude, as just 15% of 18-25-year-olds saying social media has been a bad thing for humanity, compared to at least 40% of people ages 56-75 and 37% of those ages 75 and older.

As social media continues to shape the way people communicate and interact, ongoing discussions around its regulation and impact on society are likely to persist.

About the Data: The results regarding regulation are based on two separate surveys conducted in February among 2,000 U.S. adults in total. The results concerning impact on humanity are based on a March survey of 7,481 US adults.


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