Free Speech or Free Fall? Half in Canada say Musk buying Twitter will lead to more misinformation

By: Kw Now News - Angus Reid Institute Poll
| Published 06/15/2022

Free Speech or Free Fall? Half in Canada say Musk buying Twitter will lead to more misinformation
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Half in Canada say Musk buying Twitter will lead to more misinformation and hate speech

'Half say Musk’s Twitter takeover will lead to more hate speech, misinformation.'

June 2022 – As billionaire Elon Musk appears to waffle over his purchase of Twitter, and now faces a lawsuit from the company’s shareholders, many Canadians appear to believe it would be for the best if the sale didn’t go through.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds half (53%) of Canadians say Musk’s purchase of the social media platform would lead to an increased spread of hate speech and misinformation.

A self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist”, Musk has taken issue with Twitter’s content moderation, which he believes stifles free speech and “fundamentally undermines democracy”. Two-in-five (39%) believe it would be good for free speech if Twitter was owned by the SpaceX and Tesla CEO.

There are sharp political divides on perceptions of this matter. As in the United States, where right-of-centre politicians cheered Musk’s potential acquisition, a majority (63%) of past Conservative Party voters on this side of the border believe it will be beneficial to free speech were the sale to go through. Three-quarters (74%) of past Liberal voters and seven-in-ten (70%) who voted NDP worry about the proliferation of abusive speech.

All this comes as Canadians’ use of social media climbs, but perceptions of the platforms themselves decline. Indeed, half (47%) say their use of social media has increased in the last few years – possibly as a substitute for the lack of in-person contact during periods of pandemic social distancing.

This represents more than double the number who say they have used social media less in recent years (20%). For the most popular platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, TikTok – perceptions are more likely to have worsened than improved. Facebook suffers most on that front, with half (51%) of Canadians saying their opinion of that platform has worsened in recent years.

More Key Findings:

  • Men (16%) are nearly three times as likely as women (6%) to say they will use Twitter more if Musk takes it over. Women (13%) are much more likely than men (6%) to say they will instead delete their account.

  • Of those who have quit using at least one social media app in recent years (32% of Canadians), one-quarter (25%) say it was to protect their mental health. Most say they just lost interest (55%)

  • Past CPC voters (20%) are much more likely than other partisans to say they’ll be Tweeting more in the event of a Musk takeover.

  • Overall, nine-in-ten (90%) Canadians surveyed say they use Facebook regularly, including two-thirds (67%) who use it daily. Self-reported daily use rises for older respondents, ranging from a low of 35 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds, to a high of 77 per cent of those over the age of 64.

  • Among popular social media platforms, Canadians are most likely to have abandoned their Twitter account. One-in-five (23%) of Canadians who used Twitter at previously have left the platform.

Women more likely to say they’ll delete account post-takeover

When news of Musk’s attempt to acquire Twitter first broke, many prominent users said they would delete their account rather than continuing to use the platform if Musk owned it. Few Canadians, (9%) would take that step if Musk’s purchase was successful. Equal numbers would Tweet more (11%), Tweet less (8%) and Tweet as much as they have been (10%). For half, Elon musk buying Twitter would not impact them at all.

Men under the age 55 are three times as likely as women to say they will be using Twitter more if Musk takes it over. Women, on the other hand, are twice as likely as men to say they will delete their account.

Musk and Twitter

  • Half say Musk’s Twitter takeover will lead to more hate speech, misinformation
  • Women more likely to say they’ll delete account post-takeover
  • One-in-five past CPC voters say they’ll use Twitter more if Musk buys it

Canadian social media use

  • At least two-in-five of all demographics report daily Facebook usage
  • Half of Canadians say their social media use has increased in recent years
  • Canadians more likely to have abandoned Twitter than other platforms
  • Younger Canadians more likely to say they’ve left a platform for mental health reasons

View full Poll at Link below: