Skip to main content

NBC/WSJ Poll: Majority Say Social Media is Time Waster, Rumor Monger

It appears that the bipartisan criticism of social media giants on Capitol Hill is indeed a case of representative government in action.

According to a new poll from NBC and the Wall Street Journal, "a whopping" 82% said social media sites do more to waste people's time than use that time well (15%)."

Related" Demand Progress Pushes for Break-Up of Facebook

And in a finding that should be troubling to Facebook and Google and others as legislators decide whether and how to regulate the edge, almost three quarters (74%) said that social media company collection of their personal data for targeted advertising is "not an acceptable trade-off for free or lower cost services."

The poll also found that a majority of respondents (61%) said social media "does more to spread unfair attacks and rumors" about public figures and corporations" than it does to "hold those public figures and corporations accountable" (32%).

When asked about Facebook, which has been a poster company for suspect sharing of personal information--most notably due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal--60% said they don't trust the company "at all" to protect their personal information. A mere 6% said they trust it "quite a bit or a lot."

By contrast, 37% said they don't trust Google to protect their info and only 28% said they didn't trust Amazon to protect it. Only 35% said they thought the government protected it.

That is the bad news for the edge. The good news is that 69% still say they use social media at least once a day.

There is no consensus on breaking up Big Tech, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has pledgedif she gets to the White House and ranking House Energy & Commerce Committee member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has said is worth discussing.

When asked if the government should break up the largest edge providers--Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, 47% said yes, 50% no, which is essentially a tie given the margin of error.

The phone poll of 1,000 adults was conducted March 23-27. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.