Facebook in the Face of Section 230: Where Consumers Stand

Some see Facebook as a playground of connection with old friends and family. To others, it’s a misinformation cesspool. Consumer sentiment on the social behemoth has tossed and turned about as much as all of us trying to sleep on election night week.

The issue at hand: are platforms responsible for the content published on their platforms? Add it to the list of issues Democrats and Republicans are arguing about. For years, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 has been criticized by both sides of the aisle for the broad protections it grants tech companies over online speech. Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee called on the heads of major platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, for a hearing that may result in changes to the now-infamous statute.

Previous conversation about platform content moderation was mostly contained to Silicon Valley and political punditry. But news of the hearing, a backdrop of another misinformation-marred election, and mounting documentaries critical of the platform have got consumers’ spidey senses tingling.

Our latest data tracking consumer sentiment during current events shed some clarity on how consumers feel about Facebook, and what that could mean for advertisers.

Here’s where respondents to our survey fielded between October 5 and October 13, 2020 stand:

What’s down: Overall trust in Facebook

Close to 1 in 3 people only trust Facebook to an extremely small extent, growing steadily since the summer.

What’s up: Belief that Facebook is responsible for suppressing fake news and information

Mentions of “misinformation” and “disinformation” have skyrocketed in the media, as Axios reports, and is a top concern in this election following a messy 2016. Consumer belief that it’s on the platforms to clean up shop has also ticked up after taking a dip in August.

What’s also up: Consumers opting out of political and social issue ads

Since Facebook first announced the option for users to opt-out of political and social issue ads, we’ve been tracking consumer likelihood to use the feature. Predictably, this has risen as the pre-election deluge of ads came in.

Tip: In the Resonate Ignite Platform, you can check how many of your current and prospective customers (and that of your competitors) are likely to opt-out.

What this all means for advertisers

Last Thursday, Facebook reported strong Q3 numbers in spite of July’s ad boycott. This proved advertisers are still keen on Facebook – but are consumers? In the Resonate Ignite Platform, you can see if your audience has chosen to abandon or stick with the platform, and reassess your ad spend if needed.

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