A plurality of voters say they hold social media responsible for divisions among Americans, according to a survey released Monday. A Quinnipiac University poll asked U.S. registered voters to select one of four options to blame for the divisions in the country. Overall, 35% blamed social media, 32% blamed political leaders, 28% blamed cable news channels, and only 1% blamed other countries.
45% of voters 18-34 years old blamed social media. They were roughly split among the other two dominant groups, with 27% blaming cable news and 26% blaming political leaders. Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac polling analyst, said in a press tease of the poll, ‘When it comes to the source of the angry white noise of discord and division, the segment of the population most connected to it is the age group most critical of it.’
Public officials have struggled to regulate social media, despite known consequences of its use. A bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general recently filed lawsuits against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, accusing the company of knowingly designing features that harm young users’ mental health.
The poll surveyed 1,574 self-identified registered voters nationwide from Nov 9-13 and it has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points. Thus, social media has become the biggest platform to air one’s views on anything from fashion to presidential polls. In a country of free speech, one finds social media to air views without any restrictions.
There is a need for similar surveys in other countries, including India. Of course, there will be differences in perspectives about anything, including politics. As long as the difference of opinion is expressed in a peaceful manner, it should be alright. In any democratic society, there is a scope for divergence of views.
In old days, the print media used to mold public opinion. But in the present age, social media has emerged as a powerful medium of self-expression. The opinion poll conducted by Quinnipiac University is welcome. Let us hope social media will use its power to influence public opinion in the right direction. More universities should come forward to conduct such surveys to gauge the mood of the people affected by the problem of bread and butter. After all, the voice of the people is the voice of God.