A third of conservatives surveyed have ditched Facebook or are thinking about doing so, according to a poll released Wednesday.
Commissioned by the Media Research Center (MRC), which tracks liberal bias in news coverage, the survey of 1,000 likely voters has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent and of 5.2 percent for conservatives.
In addition to the 32 percent of self-described conservatives who said they have left or are considering leaving Facebook due to political censorship, 66 percent agreed they do not trust the social media platform, according to the poll.
Another 65 percent of those surveyed said they believe Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are purposely censoring conservatives and conservative voices.
“These numbers are devastating to any CEO responsible for addressing the concerns of his customer base,” Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said in a statement. “According to this survey, 7 percent of conservatives have already left Facebook and another 25 percent are seriously considering it.”
Bozell noted that this translates to tens of millions of potential consumers.
“To make matters worse, two-thirds of conservative Facebook users trust Facebook less than they did a year ago,” he said in the statement. “These trends should set off alarm bells at Facebook headquarters. They are bleeding a major customer base.”
Officials from Facebook did not respond to LifeZette’s request for comment. The company said last month that it had more than 2.23 billion monthly active users worldwide in the second quarter.
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The MRC poll comes amid heightened concerns over the way Facebook and other social media companies handle political speech. Facebook and several other companies recently barred radio talk-show host Alex Jones, who is often associated with conspiracy theories.
Pressure has mounted on Twitter, which has said Jones has not violated its terms of service, to follow suit. A group called Blind, an anonymous workplace social network of technology company workers, reported Wednesday that a survey of 5,137 respondents found that 61 percent believe Twitter should take that step. Only 21 percent of Twitter employees agree, however.
Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have struggled over how much free speech should be allowed. Asked about Jones, Zuckerberg in July raised the hypothetical example of a Holocaust denier.
“I find that deeply offensive,” he told the website Recode in a podcast. “But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”
A firestorm of criticism erupted, and a couple of weeks later, Facebook joined most of its brethren in banning Jones and his Infowars. The company at the time explained that it was shutting down several pages for “glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”
Bozell said in his statement that Facebook and other social media companies must decide if they want to be seen as open platforms or public interest groups.
“The latter will prove to be unbelievably costly,” he stated. “Censorship on social media is no longer a hypothetical; it’s reality. So too is the evidence that this censorship is pointing to a massive conservative exodus.”