Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults (64%) say that social media has been bad for democracy, according to a Pew Research Center report published December 6.
This makes the U.S. an outlier, with 57% of respondents from all 19 nations surveyed saying social media has been a good thing and 35% saying that it has been a bad thing for democracy.
Only the Netherlands (54%) and France (51%) also had a majority say social media has been bad for democracy. By comparison, four countries were almost evenly divided on the question, while 12 nations had a majority saying social media is a good thing for democracy.
In most nations, younger respondents were more likely than older respondents to say social media has been good for democracy. In the U.S., 47% of 18-29-year-olds said it was a good thing, compared to 35% of 30-49-year-olds and 28% of those 50 and older.
When asked about its impact on ethnic groups, religions and races, the U.S. is evenly divided with a plurality (35%) saying social media has made people more accepting, 34% less accepting and 30% that it has “not had much impact.”
Younger adults in the U.S. were more likely than older adults to say social media made people more accepting of these differences: 51% among 18-29-year-olds, 38% among 30-49-year-olds and 28% among 50 and older. This pattern held true across almost every nation surveyed.
Globally, the median response across the countries surveyed was 45% more accepting, 29% not much impact and 22% less accepting. South Korea had the highest percentage say more accepting (62%), the Netherlands the highest percentage say less accepting (45%) and Sweden the highest percentage say not much impact (39%).
“In most countries, people who see social media leading to more divisions between people with different political opinions are more likely to say social media has made people less accepting of those racially and religiously different from them than those who say social media is having no effect on political division,” the report said.