Yahoo! Inc. this week released results of a new online survey that shows a clear racial divide over how Americans feel about the effect of the Internet and social media on politics. While voters overwhelmingly feel that social media and the internet spread misinformation (83%), the findings show that minority voters are especially likely to feel technology has made the American political debate more representative.
Yahoo News commissioned the survey, conducted by Harris Poll in September 2015 among 5,188 registered voters, to gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives on the issues surrounding how technology has influenced their ability to communicate with politicians, their perspectives on cybersecurity, privacy, and the infrastructure of technological education in this country.
According to survey highlights:
White Americans are by far the most pessimistic when it comes to the country’s future
- 71 percent of Caucasians believe the U.S. is “going off on the wrong track,” compared to 55 percent of Asians, 54 percent of Hispanics, and just 41 percent of African-Americans.
- The majority of African-Americans (59%) think the U.S. is “going in the right direction.”
There are differences in how ethnic groups feel about whether technology has empowered new voices in the political debate, with whites being among the most skeptical across all categories
- Three out of four African-Americans and Hispanics (74% and 73%) believe that the web and social media have “made political discussion more representative of what Americans really think,” as compared to two out of three Asians (69%), and just three out of five Caucasians (60%).
- Fifty-five percent of African-Americans think that the Internet and social media have made minority voters “more influential” in politics, compared to 51 percent of Hispanics, 45 percent of Caucasians, and just 43 percent of Asians.
- Seventy-eight percent of Asians feel that tech has made politics “more inclusive,” as do 77 percent of African-Americans, 72 percent of Hispanics, and 67 percent of Caucasians.
Minority groups are more optimistic than whites about the political uses of tech
- At roughly 60 percent, Caucasians fall 10 to 15 points behind African-Americans and Asians, and 3 to 6 points behind Hispanics in their view of whether it’s “easier to find the truth about an issue or candidates because of the internet and social media” (60%) and whether these technologies “ensure more transparency in the campaign process. (59%)”
- Fifty-seven percent of Caucasian voters think social media has made politics more negative, followed by Hispanics and Asians at 50 percent and 51 percent, and 41 percent of African-Americans.
Minorities have higher hopes for the possibility of engaging with political candidates electronically as compared to whites
- Fifty percent of African-Americans want to engage political candidates through social media, while only 32 percent of Caucasians feel the same way.
- Hispanics scored among the highest in most categories of online engagement, as well as offline, physical world civic involvement.
- They were most among the most likely to view a presidential candidate’s picture on social media (30%), to watch their video (30%) or to read their blog (26%).
- They reported the highest levels of regularly posting on social media about current events (26%), attending a public meeting on school or town affairs (19%), attending a political rally, speech or organized protest (10%), and writing letters to newspapers (8%) or calling a radio show (8%).
Overall, 83 percent of voters believe that the web and social media spread misinformation. This includes:
- 85% of Caucasians
- 83% percent of Asians
- 81% of Hispanics
- 78% of African-Americans
Most voters have a limited view of the reach of their own influence as an individual, even with the advent of social media
- Just 23 percent of Hispanics believe technology has given them more of a voice in politics, 21 percent of African-Americans, 18 percent of whites, and 15 percent of Asians.
White Americans are most skeptical of information they see online
- Nearly half (45%) of Caucasians think it’s difficult to know who to trust because every news organization has a bias, as compared to 34 percent of Hispanics, 32 percent of Asians, and 29 percent of African-Americans.
African-Americans are more inclined to give government the benefit of the doubt on matters of cyber-security
- Nearly half of African-Americans think the government (47%) and corporate sector (46%) are “well prepared” for cyberattacks, as compared to a third of Hispanics (35% and 36%) and Asians (32% and 33%), and just about one-fifth of Caucasians (20% and 21%).
- 17 percent of African-Americans trust the government to keep their information safe from hackers, along with just 8 percent of Caucasians, 14 percent of Hispanics and 12 percent of Asians.
- Sixty-seven percent of whites think former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her time in government is a serious matter, compared to just 60 percent of Hispanics and Asians, and 42 percent of African-Americans.
Source: Business Wire; edited by Richard Carufel