Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a 2020 US Presidential hopeful, speaks during the ‘We The People’ Summit at the Warner Theatre April 1, 2019, in Washington, DC.
Americans have offered their initial judgment of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan to break up large technology companies: They don’t support it.
By 50% to 47%, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll shows, Americans disagree that the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google should be split into smaller competing companies because they have too much influence on American life. By a more emphatic 68% to 28%, respondents said such decisions should be left to the free market rather than government.
Warren, the Massachusetts senator seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has emphasized her commitment to challenging corporate power. Her proposal aims to break up tech giants with global revenue of at least $25 billion, with the goal of helping consumers and small businesses by improving competition and preventing abuses of corporate power.
The poll shows Americans skeptical of those mammoth firms. Just 6% say they trust Facebook to protect their personal information, while 92% do not. Google and Amazon fare better, but only slightly.
The telephone survey of 1,000 adults, conducted March 23-27, carries a margin for error of 3.1 percentage points.
Three in 4 call it unacceptable that social media companies collect users’ personal data to help advertisers target them. Solid majorities say social media divides Americans, wastes their time, spreads lies and disseminates unfair attacks on public figures and corporations.
Just 36% call themselves satisfied with the amount of federal oversight and regulation of companies such as Facebook and Twitter. But they plainly don’t want those companies’ services to go away.
By better than 3 to 1, Americans call the use of smartphones and social media to communicate and stay in touch with people an overall step in the right direction for society. Six in 10 say technology has more benefits than drawbacks, and call themselves hopeful of further advances over the next five years.
Unusually for an American political issue, attitudes toward technology regulation do not divide along party lines. Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents all pronounce themselves dissatisfied with current levels of regulations and agree that free market competition should determine the future of giant tech firms.