More than half of U.S. adults (54%) say social media companies should not allow any political advertisements on their platforms. And a larger share (77%) finds it not very or not at all acceptable for these companies to use data about their users’ online activities to show them ads from political campaigns, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Sept. 8-13, 2020.
At the same time, 45% say social media companies should allow at least some political ads on their platforms, with 26% saying these firms should allow all of these ads and 19% backing the idea that only some should be allowed. And 22% think it is at least somewhat acceptable for social media companies to use data about their users’ online activities to show them political campaign ads.
The sentiments against political ads extend across most groups, though there are some differences tied to factors like partisanship and age. For instance, just 15% of Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say that social media companies should allow all political ads on their platforms, compared with 38% of Republicans and GOP leaners. Some 27% of Democrats say only some political ads should be allowed on these platforms, compared with a much smaller share of Republicans (10%) who say the same. When it comes to not allowing any political ads on these sites at all, 56% of Democrats and half of Republicans express this view.
Within the Democratic cohort, there are no differences in these views by ideology. However, Republicans are slightly more divided along ideological lines. For instance, 43% of conservative Republicans say social media companies should allow all political ads on their platforms, while 30% of moderate to liberal Republicans say the same. Moderate and liberal Republicans are also about twice as likely as conservative Republicans to say these sites should allow only some political ads (16% vs. 7%).
These views also vary somewhat by age. Those ages 65 and older are most likely to favor not allowing political ads on social media. Some 64% of those 65 and older say these sites should not allow any political ads on their platforms, compared with slightly over half of those ages 30 to 64 and 45% of those 18 to 29. By contrast, those in the youngest age group are more likely to favor allowing only some ads on the site, with 30% holding this view, compared with about one-in-five or fewer of those in older age groups.
There are also differences in these views by race and ethnicity and gender. White Americans (56%) are more likely than Black (47%), Hispanic (51%) and Asian Americans (48%) to say these companies should not allow any political ads on their site. However, White Americans (28%) are also more likely than Black (21%), Hispanic (23%) and Asian American adults (19%) to say social media sites should allow all political ads on their sites. Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans are all more likely to favor social media sites allowing only some political ads on their sites when compared with White adults. Women (58%) are also more likely than men (49%) to say these sites should not allow any political ads on their platforms. Conversely, men are more likely than women to favor allowing all political ads on these sites (31% vs. 21%).
Courtesy: Pew Research Center