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Americans worry over social media control of news: Poll

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Social media apps are seen on Apple iPhone 5s in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

A majority of Americans believe social media companies have too much control over the news on their sites, and most are worried that they get a less favorable "mix" of information as a result, according to a new survey.

Almost all Americans, or 88 percent, recognize that social media companies have at least some control over the mix of news people see, the Pew Research Center poll found.

And most Americans feel this is a problem. More than six-in-ten of Americans, or 62 percent, say social media companies have too much control over the mix of news that people see on their sites.

The survey highlights rising worries about how social media shape the information people see online, and complaints from some that platforms are biased.

The Pew survey indicated that the trend of people turning to social media for news continues to grow. Some 55 percent of US adults said they get news from social media often or sometimes, up from 47 percent in 2018.

According to Pew, about half of all US adults get news from Facebook, with YouTube the second most popular at 28 percent, followed by Twitter (17 percent), Instagram (14 percent) and smaller numbers from services such as LinkedIn, Reddit and Snapchat.

The poll found more than 80 per cent of respondents believe social media sites treat some news organizations differently than others.

The vast majority of those surveyed said greater exposure was given to news organizations that produce "attention-grabbing articles", those with a high number of social media followers or those whose coverage that has a certain political stance.

About half of US adults said social media firms often showed inaccurate or one-sided news, while 35 per cent said censorship of the news is a big problem on these sites.

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