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Nearly 75% believe Twitter and Facebook censor political views, Pew study finds

Many Republicans think major tech companies support the views of liberals over conservatives, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

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A new poll suggests most Americans think social media companies like Twitter and Facebook censor political content they disagree with.
Angela Lang/CNET

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the voting in November and its aftermath.

Your social media feeds from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are fueled by algorithms, but are they also influenced by human political bias? A new survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center indicates that most US adults think so. About three-quarters of respondents said they believe it's very likely (37%) or somewhat likely (36%) that social media companies censor political viewpoints they disagree with. Only 25% indicated they don't think such a practice happens. 

The survey, which also tracked political affiliation, found that majorities of both Democrats and Republicans feel that social media companies censor objectionable political views, although this attitude was more widespread among Republicans. Nine out of 10 respondents who lean conservative said it's at least somewhat likely that social media platforms censor political views they disagree with.

Pew surveyed more than 4,700 adults in the US between June 16 and 22 for its report. 

Several high-profile incidents in recent months have focused attention on social media companies' free-speech policies, including two instances of Twitter labeling President Donald Trump's tweets as containing "potentially misleading information about voting processes." The companies have repeatedly said they don't censor content based on political views. 

In May, Trump issued an executive order meant to curtail legal protections that shield Facebook, Twitter and other online companies from being held liable for user-posted content. Later that same month, a Republican senator introduced a bill that would allow people to sue social media companies for "selectively censoring political speech." The bill was never voted on.

Facebook and Twitter didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.