Issue One and Frank Luntz partner to conduct public opinion research on the impact of social media and AI

Issue One and its Council for Responsible Social Media have partnered with renowned communications expert Frank Luntz to conduct public opinion research regarding the impact of social media and artificial intelligence (AI) on people’s lives and social media reform as a public policy priority.

Through a focus group conducted with moms across the country, followed by a nationwide survey of U.S. adults, we found that this issue is deeply personal for Americans.

Below are our seven key findings. A comprehensive memo is also available here, and excerpts from the focus group can be viewed here.

  1. More than one in three (34%) have been or know someone who has been harmed by social media – for moms, nearly half (47%) noted these harms. Among those ages 18-29 it is even higher (64%). Consider this: more people under age 30 have been personally, negatively impacted by social media than by COVID.
  2. People are especially concerned about the negative impact of social media on the social and emotional development of our children. When asked what result or fear of social media or AI matters most, more than half (52%) of Americans across party lines (47% Republicans, 55% Democrats) believe that children’s “addictive” relationship with social media makes them worse at interacting with people face-to-face. Forty-eight percent (53% Republicans, 49% Democrats) believe it weakens children’s ability to think for themselves, robbing them of their social skills and childhood innocence. Make no mistake: the impact on our children is already serious and significant.
  3. The adverse impact on truth and the quality of information is also a compelling issue for both Republicans and Democrats. A third of all Americans, evenly distributed between Republicans and Democrats, say they can’t tell what’s true and not true on social media platforms. At a time when “the truth” is the single highest priority among the American population, this finding is among the most alarming.
  4. A third of the country has tried one of the AI platforms and a surprisingly high number of Americans (75%) have at least some familiarity with advanced AI and the potential to make what they see as the bad things about social media even worse. Specifically, nearly half (46%) are worried most about the unintended consequences that we cannot even predict yet because of how fast the technology is developing. Some people in Washington want to go slow in creating AI safeguards, not wanting to act in haste. The public is of the opposite opinion: they want action now, before it is too late.
  5. While the public thinks it is the responsibility of parents to manage their children’s relationship with social media platforms, they can’t do it alone and many call for greater accountability from the platforms and want responsible safeguards. When asked if the government should address the potential impact of social media, only 23% of the public responded “no.”
  6. When it comes to advanced AI technologies, a wide margin (62% to 38%) of the public would prefer action to address their concerns, rather than waiting and worrying that we could stifle innovation as a result. This support holds equally among Republicans and Democrats (both at 62%). The public clearly wants action.
  7. There are a lot of metaphors and analogies already being used in the AI discussion. The one that works best: establish a government review process similar to potentially addictive FDA medicines. The public embraces this line of communication better than all others.

Download the full memo.

Learn more about Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media.