One In Three Say They Have Less Freedom Today To Speak Mind; Conservatives Among Most Concerned
Washington, DC – Americans are increasingly worried about freedom of speech on the Internet and feel that things will only get worse in the future, according to results from a new Morning Consult survey released today by Protect Internet Freedom (PIF). The national survey revealed that one in 3 (34%) respondents say they have less freedom to speak their mind on the Internet today compared with a few years ago, and only one in 10 (12%) say they have more freedom to speak their mind. Conservatives are more likely to say they have less freedom today. When asked to look ahead a few years, about half (45%) of adults think they will have less freedom to speak their minds.
“Freedom of speech is under attack and Americans are concerned that it is only getting worse online,” said PIF Public Advocate Jerri Ann Henry. “Once thought to only be practiced by authoritarian regimes, online censorship is becoming a common practice in the U.S. on university campuses, social media forums and even in the public comment sections on news websites. There is a movement to shut down and chill speech online that questions the dogma of the progressive left, academia and in some cases our own government.”
PIF highlighted several examples of encroachments to online freedom of speech in a recent blog post , including an open mic capturing Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Germany’s President Angela Merkel discussing how Facebook could ban user posts critical of Merkel’s immigration policy; national online Latino organization Presente.org, urging the U.S. Attorney General to arrest a Presidential candidate (Trump) for his tone when talking about illegal immigration; a coalition of social advocacy groups petitioning the Department of Education to ban popular social media apps from public campuses for fear user comments create an “unsafe space” for college students; and the U.S. Federal Elections Commission seeking to regulate online political speech.
“Ironically, many of those now calling for censorship are the same advocates who empowered the federal government to regulate the Internet in order to protect its “free and open” nature,” Henry said. “In reality, these social justice warriors are using the government as their bodyguard against those who don’t support their online agenda. They aren’t about keeping the Internet open, they aren’t about Internet freedom and they certainly aren’t about protecting free speech.”
**The Morning Consult survey of 1,974 registered voters was conducted November 5-8.