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Pew Attitudes Political Ads Social Media Oct2020As US elections near, the number of political ads seems to increase. And, while the ads may seem inescapable, a survey from the Pew Research Center shows that one place the majority of Americans don’t want to see political advertising is on social media.

More than half (54%) of US adults surveyed say that social media companies should not allow any political ads on their platform, while 19% say they should allow only some ads. Only about one-quarter (26%) believe that all political ads should be allowed on social media platforms.

The sentiment that social media should not allow any political ads increases with age. Some 45% of younger adults (ages 18-29) say that no political ads should be allowed on social media, compared to 52% of those ages 30-49 and 54% of 50-64-year-olds. And, nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults 65+ feel that social media companies should ban all political ads from their platforms.

Pew Research does point out that some companies have made an effort to listen to their users. Twitter banned all sponsored political content towards the end of 2019, while Facebook said it would not allow any new ads during the week of the election. Going one step further, perhaps, Facebook recently said it would ban all political ads after election day (November 3).

Earlier research from Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation found that some 7 in 10 US adults feel that internet companies should not provide user information for the purpose of targeted political ads and that ads should be shown to any users of the website regardless of their background characteristics. Pew Research’s survey reveals similar findings with 77% of adults saying that it is not acceptable for social media companies to use data about their users’ online activities in order to show them ads from campaigns.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 10,093 US adults from September 2020.

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