By AJ Dellinger
January 31, 2023 at 5:00 am ET
Scrutiny of Big Tech companies from the federal government is intensifying, and there appears to be bipartisan support for action on tech regulation. But while a majority of Republican and Democratic voters largely agree that the downsides of Big Tech dominance outweigh the benefits, there is a significant partisan divide on the issue of content moderation and censorship, according to a new Morning Consult survey.
The Biden administration has taken a sharp turn toward stricter antitrust enforcement compared to previous administrations, including lawsuits brought by the Department of Justice against Alphabet Inc.’s Google and the Federal Trade Commission against Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook for alleged anti-competitive behavior.
There seems to be some room for bipartisan action on Big Tech regulation. Republican lawmakers have signaled their intention to investigate a number of issues related to tech accountability. At the same time, President Joe Biden has flagged regulation of Big Tech firms as an area of potential cooperation among party leaders.
Despite this potentially fertile ground for regulatory action, the priorities of party leaders and voters still seem far apart. While there is a general sense that additional regulation of tech companies is necessary, Republican leadership has targeted different issues than Democrats. In response to an op-ed by Biden in The Wall Street Journal, the deputy spokesperson for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) noted that the president did not mention “censorship,” “bias,” “silencing” or “free speech.”
A similar divide has derailed efforts to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms from being held legally accountable for user-generated content. While both parties have expressed interest in narrowing the protections, Democratic lawmakers primarily hope to push tech companies to more effectively moderate their platforms, while Republicans have sought to prevent the companies from removing certain types of content.
The Jan. 18-20, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,986 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
AJ Dellinger is a data reporter at Morning Consult covering tech. @ajdell