Americans favor tighter regulations for political ads, survey finds
With presidential candidates going full-steam into the Super Tuesday contests, Americans on both sides of the aisle want stricter rules for online political ads, a newly released study conducted by Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation suggests.
According to the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they favor banning political ads that spread clear falsehoods, such as providing the wrong day to vote, from social media; a majority additionally said ads with misleading content should be annotated by moderators, but should not be banned outright.
The survey also revealed that a bipartisan majority of American voters—88 percent in total—are concerned about mismanagement of their data by tech companies, and said they’d be “willing to sacrifice online convenience and ease of access to feel their data is safer.”
“The data is clear: Americans are concerned about the possibility of false or misleading content in online ads, and especially concerned about the use of personal information to target ads,” says Sam Gill, the Knight Foundation’s senior vice president and chief program officer.
The Gallup-Knight survey also suggested that 72 percent of Americans do not think politicians should be able to target users for ads based on their personal data, while 59 percent of respondents said political ads should be required to disclose who paid for them.
Those findings come as White House hopefuls pour hundreds of millions of dollars into primary- and caucus-stage advertising, both from small-dollar contributions and from their own personal fortunes.
The poll surveyed 1,628 American adults in December 2019 via online interviews and has a margin of error of 3 percent.
Meanwhile, some tech companies have pushed back against the hyper-partisanship that has defined the 2020 presidential race thus far. Spotify and Twitter, for example, both suspended all forms of political advertising on their platforms last year, while others (including, quite notably, Facebook) have embraced a Wild West approach to campaign ads by doing little to moderate potentially harmful content.