Republicans Love Twitter Again: Survey Shows Major Shift in Attitudes

It appears the winds have changed when it comes to perceptions about Twitter. When Elon Musk took over the platform, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from folks on the left. On the other hand, conservatives and libertarians rejoiced at the possibility that free speech would once again be a thing on the platform.

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Musk has been running Twitter since the end of October 2022. Since taking over, it seems every move he makes gets national attention from the press. I think it is safe to say that Elon Musk is the Donald Trump of social media at this point. A new survey revealed that attitudes about Twitter among Republicans and Democrats have changed quite drastically since Musk bought the company.

According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, the views of Republican and Democratic Twitter users in the US regarding the impact of the platform on American democracy have shifted in opposite directions over the past two years.

The study shows that a majority of conservative Twitter users who held negative views about the site’s impact on democracy in 2021 have become much more positive, while the views of their Democratic counterparts have grown more negative.

From the report:

The share of Republican and Republican-leaning Twitter users who say the platform is mostly bad for American democracy has dropped from 60% in 2021 to 21% today, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted March 13-19, 2023. At the same time, the share of Republican Twitter users who say the site is mostly good for democracy has risen from 17% to 43%.

Democrats’ views have moved in the opposite direction. The percentage of Democratic and Democratic-leaning Twitter users who say the platform is good for American democracy has decreased from 47% to 24% in the past two years, while the share who say it is bad for democracy has increased – though more modestly – from 28% to 35%.

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The survey also reveals that while a growing number of users from both parties say Twitter isn’t impacting American democracy, there are widening partisan gaps in assessing the severity of harassment, misinformation, and civility issues on the platform. The data shows that Democrats are now more likely than Republicans to see inaccurate or misleading information and the tone or civility of discussions as major problems on Twitter. Meanwhile, there has been a double-digit increase in the percentage of Democrats who believe banning users and limiting their reach are major problems on the site.

Pretty interesting, right?

The study’s findings suggest that Twitter’s recent changes, including Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the site last fall and his advocacy for preserving free speech, have affected users’ views about its impact on American democracy. However, critics have raised concerns that these changes could lead to unchecked misinformation and harassment on the site. It’s the same line they were peddling when Musk took over the platform and made it clear that he planned to end the politically-motivated censorship practices that were commonplace on the platform.

There are likely several reasons why the Pew Research Center survey found that the views of Republican and Democratic Twitter users in the US regarding the impact of the platform on American democracy have shifted in opposite directions over the past two years. One possible explanation is the changes that Twitter has undergone in recent times, including Elon Musk’s acquisition of the site and his advocacy for preserving free speech on the platform.

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These changes may have influenced Republican users to view Twitter more positively since they align with their values and beliefs. It also helps that right-leaning users are not being subject to the same level of censorship as they were prior to his taking over the company.

Another factor that could have contributed to the survey results is the political polarization that has become increasingly prevalent in the US. This polarization has resulted in the widening of the gap between the views of Republicans and Democrats on various issues, including social media platforms like Twitter.

For instance, the study shows that Democratic Twitter users are now more likely to see inaccurate or misleading information and the tone or civility of discussions as major problems on the platform, while Republican users are less likely to do so. Much of this could be due to the reality that many on the left tend to view opinions with which they disagree as misinformation and disinformation. Indeed, left-leaning politicians and members of the activist media have been instrumental in perpetuating this myth.

Nevertheless, Musk has brought about a new era on Twitter that could also affect the world of Big Tech in general. The authoritarians on the left have spent the past year trying to discredit and attack him, but so far, none of their efforts have yielded fruit. So far, it appears the new CEO will be causing many more meltdowns in the not-too-distant future.

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