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Restricting online violence and false information.

Increasing support for limitations of online violence and false information

Tech companies should restrict false information and extremely violent content online. Government should also participate in this work but citizens think it is mainly tech companies that are responsible, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Support for both technology companies and the government taking steps to restrict false information online has grown in recent years. For example, the share of US adults who say the federal government should restrict false information has risen from 39% in 2018 to 55% in 2023, the Center says.

“This increase in support comes amid public debates about online content regulation and court cases that look at how tech companies moderate content on their platforms.”

“Additionally, tech companies have begun to remove some content restrictions that they had imposed in response to misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 election.”

Key takeaways

  • 65% of Americans support tech companies moderating false information online and 55% support the government taking these steps. These shares have increased since 2018.
  • Americans are even more supportive of tech companies (71%) and the US government (60%) restricting extremely violent content online.
  • Democrats are more supportive than Republicans of tech companies and the U.S. government restricting extremely violent content and false information online. The partisan gap in support for restricting false information has grown substantially since 2018.
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55% in the survey support the government taking steps to restrict false information online, even if it limits people from freely publishing or accessing information.

Adults are less likely to say that freedom of information should be protected even if it means false information can be published (42%).

“Support for government intervention has steadily risen since the first time we asked this question in 2018. In fact, the balance of opinion has tilted: Five years ago, Americans were more inclined to prioritize freedom of information over restricting false information (58% vs. 39%).”

“In addition, the share of US adults who say that tech companies should take steps to restrict false information online has increased from 56% in 2018 to 65% in 2023.”

71% believe tech companies should restrict violent content online, and 60% say that the government should do so.

The survey shows that adults ages 50 and older are more likely than younger adults to say that both technology companies (68% vs. 62%) and the government (58% vs. 52%) should take steps to restrict false information online.

“However, the shares of younger adults who say they support tech companies and the government restricting false information online have increased substantially since 2018 (by 14 and 19 percentage points, respectively).”

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