Social media has become a valuable tool to spread the news, a tool some say is hampering democracy, while others say it promotes democracy.
- Politics is prevalent on most social media platforms, but users are divided on whether or not this is a positive thing.
- A recent Pew Research survey of 19 countries revealed that most citizens see social media’s effect on democracy as positive.
- Around 57% of those surveyed say that social media has benefited democracy. Just 35% say that it has been a detriment to democracy.
- However, how survey respondents answered this question varied greatly depending on their country.
- The U.S. is an outlier in the study. Only 34% of U.S. respondents feel that social media benefits democracy, while 64% think it has caused harm.
- More Americans view social media as harmful than individuals in other countries.
Why it’s news
In most countries surveyed, citizens had a generally positive view of social media. Only four of the 19 countries surveyed had a majority negative view. The U.S. had the most pessimistic view of social media.
Australia, France, the Netherlands, and the U.S. all have a negative view of social media. Around 50% of Australians view social media as a bad thing for democracy, 51% of France feels the same, 54% of Dutch agree, and 64% of Americans feel the same.
Americans also felt that social media had the effect of dividing the country. Almost 80% of respondents felt that social media increased political division in the country. Nearly 70% also believed that social media led Americans to be less civil in political discussions.
In these categories, the U.S. once again had the most significant percentage of people agreeing that social media was not a positive influence.
Despite an overall negative view from the U.S., the majority of all survey respondents felt that social media effectively accomplished political goals, such as raising social awareness on particular issues.
Of all respondents, 77% said social media could effectively raise awareness, 65% said it could change people’s minds and opinions on topics, 64% believe it could draw officials’ attention to issues, and 61% say it could influence policy decisions.